Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Birthday: Louis Armstrong!

Louis Armstrong, greatest trumpet playing of his early years can be heard on his Hot Five and Hot Seven records, as well as the Red Onion Jazz Babies. Armstrong's improvisations were daring and sophisticated for the time, while often subtle and melodic.

He re-composed pop-tunes of the day, making them more interesting. Armstrong playing technique, extended the range, tone and capabilities of the trumpet. Armstrong almost single-handily created the role of the jazz soloist.

As his popularity grew, his singing also became very important. Armstrong was not the first to record scat singing, but he helped popularize it. He had a hit with his playing/singing on "Heebie Jeebies" when, the sheet music fell to the floor and he started making the song up as he went.

During his long career he played and sang with some of the most important instrumentalists and vocalists of the time; Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Crosby, who admired and copied Armstrong style, in the song, "Just One More Chance" (1931). Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith and most notably with Ella Fitzgerald, whom he recorded three albums with.

Basin Street Blues" is a song often performed by Dixieland jazz bands, written by Spencer Williams. The song was published in 1926 and made famous in a recording by Louis Armstrong in 1928. The famous verse with the lyric "Won't you come along with me/To the Mississippi..." was later added by Glenn Miller and Jack Teagarden.

Some of Armstrongs other best known songs are: "Stardust", "What a Wonderful World", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "You Rascal You,"and "Stompin' at the Savoy." "We Have All the Time in the World" was featured on the soundtrack of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

In 1964, Armstrong knocked the Beatles off the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Hello, Dolly!", which gave the 63-year-old performer a U.S. record as the oldest artist to have a number one song. His 1964 song, "Bout Time" was later featured in the film "Bewitched" (2005).

Armstrong performed in Italy at the 1968 Sanremo Music Festival where he sang "Mi Va di Cantare" alongside his friend, the Eritrean-born Italian singer Lara Saint Paul.

In 1968, Armstrong performed in one last popular song "What a Wonderful World".

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