American Legends

American Legends : The Life of Louis Armstrong

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*Includes pictures *Includes Armstrong's quotes *Includes a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know." - Louis Armstrong A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known. Louis Armstrong once claimed that "Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine-I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans...It has given me something to live for." This statement conjures an image which most anyone familiar with jazz music can recall: Armstrong clutching his trumpet forcefully, his eyes closed in a manner that distances him from his physical surroundings in favor of a perfect harmony between the man and his instrument. As Armstrong alludes to in this remark, this connection also speaks to the enduring influence of his New Orleans background, which informed his musical style and indeed continued to live on through his music. To be sure, while performing, Armstrong appeared lost in a reverie, a condition that imbued his performances with a kind of mythical flair, as if one were watching a man consumed by a moment of transcendence. In other words, if the music of Louis Armstrong produced an emotional response in the listener, this invariably paled in comparison with the deep, organic pathos he was able to produce through his music. Of course, Armstrong's testament to the power of New Orleans is also particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that New Orleans was hardly the benevolent city that one might assume on the basis of his testimony. It is well known to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Armstrong that New Orleans was the site of Armstrong's nascent love for music, but also an environment that took no prisoners and exposed him to sights that would traditionally be shielded from the eyes of children: extreme violence, prostitution, and abject poverty. Throughout his life, Armstrong was not afraid to make frequent reference to New Orleans, yet the frankness with which he spoke did not preclude maintaining an appreciation for the city-and, indeed, crediting it with fostering his nascent interest in music as a boy. There was, accordingly, a remarkably complex relationship between Louis Armstrong and the city of New Orleans, as the city simultaneously served as an environment that forced him to confront extreme adversity, and assumed a crucial role in developing his musical sensibilities. American Legends: The Life of Louis Armstrong explores the life and career of Louis Armstrong, with attention paid to the special role that New Orleans played in the development of his love for music and the construction of his artistic persona. Indeed, one cannot consider the works of the mature Louis Armstrong without first understanding the indelible imprint that his cultural upbringing exerted on his sensibility. This analysis also considers Armstrong's career in each of its stages, from his earliest years performing in a big band to his later years, in which he played in the All Stars, a small group. The relationship between Armstrong's music and pop music is also considered, as Armstrong's late career was to a certain degree focused on his own interpretations of pop songs. Because he stands as one of the most important black artists of all time, Armstrong's race is also considered (and his perhaps reticent role as a black cultural figurehead), particularly in the context of the emergent Civil Rights Movement that took shape during the latter stages of his career.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 42 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 2mm | 68g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1508668280
  • 9781508668282

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