Monday, April 2, 2012

JAZZ Appreciation Month: Louis Armstrong

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. I am not a *huge* Jazz fan, but I do like some of it...mostly the happy stuff (ie not "the Blues.") I'd like to share some of my favorite Jazz artists with you this month.
Louis Armstrong, besides being a legendary Jazz trumpeteer and band-leader, is also the oldest artist to ever hit Number One. He was 63 when his tune, HELLO, DOLLY topped the Billboard charts the week of May 9, 1964.

Not only that, but his song was the hit that stopped the Beatles from monopolizing the top spot. They had three number one songs in a row for a total of 14 weeks at the top....but Louis stopped them from having 15. Can you imagine a less likely person to do this? I can't! However, I can't imagine a more deserving person, either. :-)
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was born on August 1, 1901 in New Orleans, but always claimed July 4, 1900 as his birthday. He took to the trumpet as a 13-year old at Waif's Home for Boys and never looked back.

He is best known in pop culture today for this song and for "Wonderful World," which he sang in 1968 but was not a hit in the US until it was used in the 1987 film, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM.

Armstrong has too many jazz songs to mention, but a few of his most famous or inspirational songs include "West End Blues," "All of Me," "When The Saints Go Marchin' In," "St. Louis Blues," and "Mack The Knife." Personally I'm partial to his duets with Ella Fitzgerald from 1956 ("Ella and Louis") and 1957 ("Ella and Louis Again."). I looked high and low for a video of any of their duets, but it looks like they did no live concerts to plug these recordings. That is a shame, as they are wonderful records. They were so successful that they teamed up again in 1958 to sing songs from the musical "Porgy and Bess." 

Louis Armstrong died on July 7, 1971. He had recorded "We Have All the Time In The World," for the James Bond movie ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. To this day I can not listen to that song without tearing up: it was one of the last songs he ever recorded, AND if you know the movie, obviously we *don't* have all the time in the world.  :-(

For more information on the great Louis Armstrong, check out his biography at

But the best thing you can do is go to the library and borrow all of their Louis Armstrong CDs. "Now You Has Jazz!"

In the meantime, here he is live, the great Louis Armstrong! HELLO, DOLLY is not a jazz song, but by God, it is HERE!

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