Louis Armstrong, the name that anyone who has hear of jazz knows was crowned the king of jazz. Famous musicians, composers, jazz fans and even those who were ignorant of what jazz was, were amazed to listen to the music performed by this son of one of the poorest and most destitute neighborhoods of New Orleans. The first decade of the twentieth century witnessed the birth of a new king, an artist that would take popular music to a level it had never reached before. Ellis Marsalis would say about Armstrong: "Louis Armstrong is the master of the jazz solo. He became the beacon, the light in the tower, that helped the rest of us navigate the tricky waters of jazz improvisation."
The processions funerals in the streets, the ragtime and the blues of the Delta that could in pubs, taverns and dancehalls accompanied his childhood years and inspired him. New Orleans, Chicago and New York will become the three cities that would give him their musical scene and in return, Armstrong would give the world a new way of life, a joy to make music, listen to music and dance hardly ever experienced before.
Armstrong was a genius innovator, endowed with a voice that could sound like an instrument and a talented so that he could make his hornet sound like a human voice. He rose from the lowest stratum of the New Orleans society, with a teenage mother that could hardly take care of herself and reached heights that are unimaginable even for those from the more fortunate side of the spectrum. Maybe the very fact that Armstrong was surrounded by w promiscuous world in his childhood and even broke the law, being sentenced to prison at the age of twelve contributed to his unique way of artistic expression. The world is lucky that his character would support him in becoming on of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century, in spite of all the odds that were given to poor African-American from New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century (Peretti, p. 79).
By the end of the 1930s, after having plaid in bands in New Orleans, Chicago and New York, Louis Armstrong became an accomplished artist, a man whose love of life was transmitted to the public through music and film. His gregarious nature, his passion and his immense love for what he was doing, if he was entertaining a crowed or writing down his thoughts, the world immediately caught a glimpse of his very soul. That was a soul where thousands of African-Americans, from the past as well as millions of his American contemporaries could find their bits of reflection. Duke Ellington, another master of the jazz called him "the epitome of jazz," "an American standard, an American original." Wynton Marsalis said about him that "he left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time."
Going through the such testimonies about Armstrong one begins to understand the complexity of Armstrong's nature and the huge role he plaid in promoting a life style that would have maybe remained misunderstood to the public worldwide. Music is one of the best ways for all those who are want to understand America's history, slavery, Civil rights movement. The evolution of the American musical scene starting with the "roaring twenties" and the emancipation of the African-Americans, their acceptance in a world dominated by the white and finally, the very fact that skin color is relevant only when considering esthetics in fashion in order to choose the best color combination, are marked by the African-American musicians who went on stage and pored their hearts out, like Armstrong.
Ironically, these African-Americans sometimes sang in bars and clubs that were exclusively for white audiences. It was the beginning of the change, even if they were employees paid with spare change to entertain white crowds. The souls of those white people who were listening and dancing to the swing beat could not have remained untouched.
Armstrong's first public recording was in Chicago, with the Creole Orchestra Chicago, where he plaid the second cornet at the invitation of King Oliver. They gave a new name to their band's music style calling it: "hot jazz." "In later years, admirers of hot jazz would define it as the wellspring of the entire mainstream jazz tradition. They argued that successive generations of blues-inspired improvisers all could trace their inspirations back to Bolden, Oliver and Armstrong" (Peretti, p.85). The New York musical scene and its famous jazz players were still to come, but Armstrong was already making history.
Armstrong moved to New York in 1924 to join Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. This was another important stage in Armstrong's carrier and in the evolution of a musical genre that was developing in the middle of the urban busy streets. Armstrong was carrying the roots of "the music of black migrants, especially early blues" blended with the classical and ragtime elements of white and Creole music" (Peretti, p. 82).
In New York Armstrong plaid with one of the most professional bands of the time, but he not only matched their virtuosity, but also got the chance to evolve with the band. With Armstrong, the "solo" shifted from an occasional part in a band's performance into the focal point of it. Toward the end of the 1030s, Armstrong's carrier began to take the shape of an artist that was able to make himself understood by a world bigger than a city or a whole country. He launched an international carrier (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug99/graham/biography.html)
1925 marked the moment when Armstrong formed his own band, "the Hot Five" that performed for three years exclusively for recordings. By the 1930s, he started touring and performing with bigger bands that were suited for the swing that was in vogue at the time. Soon, Europe embraced him and his band and his name identified with jazz and the U.S.
Armstrong's geographic trajectory shows that he was unable to settle, he was gathering inspiration from all over the place and appeared to be wiling to sing to different audiences all over the country. He regularly went back to his roots: Chicago and New York, as if to make stops to go back to the sources and renew his energy (http://www.essortment.com/all/louisarmstrong_rsvy.htm).
Armstrong's ancestral heritage: Africa, his childhood years in a former French colonial city: New Orleans, his birth in the lowest ranks of its society, his contact with a Jewish family as a young boy and the various influences in his musical style combined with his vivid imagination and extraordinary creative power combined into this artist that belongs now to the whole world. He spoke to public through his music, but also through the written word. He wrote about his life and was careful to learn to master the English language in ways that could make him understood by all those who were interested in reading his prose.
Armstrong's writings and interviews sow a civically involved man who was aware of the injustices of his time and who took a strong stand against race prejudice.
He played for black and white audiences alike and felt compelled to urge the white people to make justice and put an end to inequality. When he died, the civil rights movement had earned all the African-Americans equal rights, but discrimination based on race was still a long way from becoming a thing from the past.
Armstrong's geniality, his love of life and people made him the emissary of a different world. It was a world that usually people usually feared and kept away from; the slums of a city where children gave birth to children, prostitution was often the only mean of earning a living for young girls and only those who had a strong hand, like Armstrong and set…