The Everlasting & Ebullient Epitome of Jazz Music
The most significant creative force in the early development and prominence of America's Jazz scene, Louis Armstrong’s influence as an artist and cultural icon is universal & unmatched. He was born in New Orleans in the Storyville District known as "the Battlefield" on August 4, 1901. Armstrong dropped out of school in 5th grade to help support his family. He sang on street corners, sold newspapers and delivered coal for a living during that time.
Louis Armstrong was a trumpeter, bandleader, singer, soloist, film star and comedian. Early on in his career, cornetist Joe "King" Oliver took him under his wings. When Oliver moved to Chicago, Armstrong replaced him in the Kid Ory Band. He played in many bands before moving to Chicago, where he joining his idol, Oliver’s Trio of jazz musicians.
With his groups, named the Hot 5 and the Hot 7, Armstrong changed the course of Jazz music and became widely considered as one of the most influential artists in jazz history. The Hot Fives' ‘Muskrat Ramble’ gave Armstrong a Top Ten hit in July 1926 and his work with them virtually defined the art of the jazz solo. Around February 1927, Armstrong had gained enough popularity to front his own group, Louis Armstrong & His Stompers, at the Sunset Café in Chicago.
Armstrong developed a way of playing jazz, as an instrumentalist and a vocalist, which has had an impact on all musicians to follow. To jazz enthusiasts, he was an extraordinary revelation – a trumpet virtuoso with the boundless musical imagination who was instrumental in shifting the focus of jazz from collective improvisation to individual expression. He is known for songs like ‘Star Dust,’ ‘La Vie En Rose’ and ‘What a Wonderful World’.
In 1967, Armstrong recorded the unforgettable ballad, ‘What a Wonderful World’, which was different from most of his recordings previously. The song features no trumpet and puts the spotlight on Armstrong's gravelly voice in the middle of a bed of strings and angelic voices. The song did become a No. 1 hit around the world, making Armstrong the oldest artist to go top of the charts.
In his time, Armstrong became the first jazz superstar, embraced & admired by the world for his bravura playing, his enthusiastic singing, an endearingly gravelly voice as well as his larger-than-life personality. His musical brilliance remains very much alive today.