Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

My Dad is a very big fan of Louis Armstrong' s music,
so I grew up hearing it a lot. I think the best present
I ever found for him was the soundtrack to "Do You
Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans", which
brought Louis together with Billie Holiday. It was also
the recording where I really started to be able to "hear"
just how what he could do with a horn and vocals.

Some say that was a key part of his art- that he would sing like he was playing
his horn and play his horn like it was singing.

I've rarely heard young musicians ever even mention his name, but it seems that people who knew a few things about jazz, and about living, held him in very high regard...

"If it weren't for him,
there wouldn't be any of us."
Dizzy Gillespie

"If you don't like Louis Armstrong,
you don't know how to love"
Mahalia Jackson

"I think that anybody from the 20th century,
up to now, has to be aware that if it wasn't
for Louis Armstrong, we'd all be wearing
powdered wigs.
I think that Louis Armstrong loosened the world,
helped people to be able to say "Yeah,"
and to walk with a little dip in their hip.
Before Louis Armstrong, the world was
definitely square, just like
Christopher Columbus thought."
Hugh Masekela

"If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong.
He was the epitome of jazz and always will be.
He is what I call an American standard,
an American original."
Duke Ellington

"You can't play anything
on a horn that Louis Armstrong
hasn't played"
Miles Davis

This was where he and his wife lived for many years. It's now a museum and archive.

The first thing I thought when I saw it was how very modest it seems for an artist whose work has had such an enormous impact. It's a thought that struck me when I went to Graceland, and saw that the house of the man who sold more records than anyone else ever lived in what my mother would call "a nice house" but in relation to the amount of influence and $$$ generated by the resident, modest in the extreme.

Maybe they both remembered where they grew up,
and their homes reflected their early dreams of "one day"
...they seemed to have been satisfied with less than even entry-level rock stars today. Maybe that's why it cost so
much less to go see them perform...

For the most part, Mr. Armstrong seems to have
let his music do his talking, but his perspectives
on music and on being a professional musician
seem very, very wise to me and worth sharing...

“Never play a thing
the same way twice”

photo by Herb Snitzer

“If I don’t practice for a day, I know it.
If I don’t practice for two days, the critics
know it. And if I don’t practice for three
days,the public knows it.”

"I never tried to prove nothing,
just wanted to give a good show.
My life has always been my music,
it's always come first, but the music
ain't worth nothing if you can't lay it
on the public.
The main thing is to live
for that audience, 'cause
what you're there for is
to please the people."

...that's Old School...

learn more about this amazing artist here:

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