Luis Armstrong Essay, Research Paper
Louis Armstrong was the most influential person in jazz’s history. He contributed greatly to the growth of jazz and was able to play in a variety of ways. His amazing and interesting life came from his straight talent for the music. He deserved every bit of fame he got simply because he was an incredible musician.
Louis Armstrong was born in 1900 and raised by a poor New Orleans family. At twelve he was sent to reform school for firing a gun in the air on New Year’s Eve. There he learned to play the cornet, which was his introduction to music. After he was released he worked small jobs and, although he did not own an instrument, he enjoyed listening to the Hot Style jazz of the time. Joe King Oliver was one of his favorites. The man acted as Armstrong’s father and teacher for a large portion of his life, giving him his first cornet and a job to play at some of his gigs.
From there he joined semi-successful groups playing trumpet, until 1922 when he was asked to join King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band located in Chicago. This was a dream come true to Armstrong. As soon as he arrived in Chicago Oliver’s band became a huge success. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band helped bring New Orleans style jazz to Chicago.
During this time Armstrong met Lil Hardin, the pianist for the Creole Jazz band. The two were married in 1924. Hardin, being an ambitious woman, convinced Armstrong to leave his mentor’s band and not get stuck playing next to Oliver. As well as his amazing instrumental ability, Armstrong also did a lot of singing, including scat improvising. He had a deep raspy voice like no other.
In 1924 Armstrong moved to New York where he played with Fletcher Henderson for a year and recorded with many other jazz and blues musicians. He recorded his first “Hot 5” record that year as well. Armstrong’s recordings with the “Hot 5”and “Hot Seven” groups, are considered jazz classics. They recorded until 1927. At this time he was becoming a true star and was playing with numerous popular bands.
In 1931, Armstrong went back to Chicago to form his own touring band. That same year he went back to New Orleans for the first time in more than ten years, except this time he was greeted as a star. In 1931 Lil Hardin and he separated. Armstrong went to California before heading out for a large tour in Europe. He returned to the states and hired Joe Glaser to be his manager. Glaser took care of everything, leaving Armstrong to focus on his music. He also hired the Louis Russel Orchestra that was largely made up of people that he had played with in King Oliver’s Band. The band was re-named Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra. They became very popular in the swing era. He married his second wife, Alpha, but after a year they were divorced. Armstrong quickly married Lucille whom he stayed with for the rest of his life.
In 1947 Glaser fired the band and replaced it with a smaller group that is known today as one of the greatest bands in jazz history. The band stayed together for more than 20 years despite the many changes it went through. In the 1960s Louis became known as America’s Ambassador because he had toured so much of the world. He came out with an international hit, “Hello Dolly,” which topped the charts in 1963, years after jazz was no longer popular. Armstrong’s health began to fail soon after he recorded “What a Wonderful World.” He died in New York in1971.
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