AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
Louis Armstrong was born August 4, 1901. At the onset of his upcoming 114th birth anniversary, reflection on his magnitude and impact on jazz can't be overemphasized.
Louis left New Orleans after his mentor, Joe "King" Oliver, had summoned him north. Oliver's band, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, had established itself on the south side of Chicago. This band, along with Louis' role as second cornet, is the historic example displaying all elements of what jazz was and what jazz was to become.
The original New Orleans jazz concept was a polyphonic music. Multiple strains of musical lines, harmonically intertwined and coupled with a rhythmic, syncopation presented an exciting new music. The component which would ultimately define the music as art - the improvised solo - had yet to be born. King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and their early recordings display not only the early New Orleans polyphony, but the onset of the improvised solo through the explosive "King" Oliver and most importantly, the genius of Louis Armstrong. Armstrong's innovation, his creativity and his impeccable sense of swing define the music, laying the foundation for all jazz which is to come. [Listening resource: King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, The Complete Set, Retrieval RTR 79007 - CD]
In 1925, Louis headed for the Big Apple, joining Fletcher Henderson's renowned orchestra. It was an opportunity for Armstrong, as exposure to consummate musicians and a discipline defined by the dictates of arranged music, would expand his knowledge. Through the genius of Don Redman and his New Orleans orchestral concept, the peppy, ballroom dance band of Fletcher Henderson was redefined, emerging as the quintessential jazz-age orchestra, with Louis Armstrong as the preeminent improvising, hot jazz soloist. Louis Armstrong was teaching the world to SWING!
Returning to Chicago (1925), Armstrong recorded the most important jazz music of the day and, arguably, ever. The Hot Fives and Sevens are the seminal jazz recordings and the foundation from which all jazz flourishes. (And the personnel include Pittsburgh's Earl Hines!) Today, these recordings are viewed as dusty artifacts and, if known, their importance is met with marked indifference. They are essential to the jazz canon and are to be heard, re-heard and savored. [The best sound source: Louis Armstrong: The Complete Five and Seven Recordings, Columbia/Legacy 63527 - CD]
Always displaying awareness and a keen insight into his musical surroundings, Armstrong fronted a big band (Luis Russell); a role he would assume throughout jazz music's most popular period, the Swing Era, and which would ultimately define twenty-five percent of his professional career. Louis Armstrong: musician, star soloist and singer was maturing into the consummate entertainer and would ultimately achieve worldwide recognition. [Listening option: Louis Armstrong Fleischmann's Yeast Show & Louis Armstrong Home Tapes, Special Jazz Heritage Edition, Jazz Heritage Society - CD]
The demise of the big band had Louis returning to his roots and in the late 1940's, Louis Armstrong and the All Stars were born. Although the band experienced various changes in personnel throughout its existence (Earl Hines is present, again!), the most fondly remembered is the Louis Armstrong/Jack Teagarden partnership. Their sympatico and joy of and love for the music displays the spirit which jazz personifies.
Countless recordings, television and movie appearances, domestic and international tours, all comprise Louis' remarkable career, but on May 9, 1964 he achieved what most were unable to accomplish. He stopped the Beatles 14 week, top of the charts #1 streak by replacing "Can't Buy Me Love" with his mega-hit, "Hello Dolly"! Pops is definitely Tops!
WKCR.org will be celebrating Louis' birthday with their annual Louis Armstrong Birthday Broadcast ALL DAY on July 4th and August 4th.
OF SPECIAL INTEREST........Louis Armstrong tuned-in to WKCR (89.9 FM NY), using his birthday broadcast as the musical backdrop for his annual July 4th BBQ!
WKCR is an archival based jazz radio station, housing a massive library of studio recordings, acetates, air-checks, interviews and MORE! The intent is, through listening and re-listening, a deeper understanding and appreciation for the music occurs. The hosts are a combination of jazz experts and jazz scholars who not only broadcast, but introduce and teach the student-interns to the glorious wonders of jazz music. (Be patient with the young intern-broadcasters, as they may mispronounce a name, but they are corrected and remain the future for jazz continuity.)
Join the party: Louis Armstrong Birthday Broadcast, July 4th and August 4th ALL DAY - (Phil Schaap broadcast times are July 4th, 4p-9p and July 6th, 12p-3p.) WKCR.org