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Armstrong, Louis 1900–1971

Louis Armstrong 19001971

Jazz trumpet player, singer

At a Glance

Noted for Roles in Musical Films

Achieved Posthumous Recognition Worldwide

Selected discography

Sources

Louis Armstrong is frequently regarded by critics as the greatest jazz performer ever. With both his trumpet and his rich, gravelly voice, he made famous such jazz and pop classics as West End Blues, When Its Sleepy Time Down South, Hello, Dolly, and What a Wonderful World. Armstrongs influence on the jazz artists who followed him was immense and far-reaching; for instance, according to George T. Simon in his book The Best of the Music Makers, fellow trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie affirmed that if it werent for Armstrong there would be no Dizzy Gillespie. Reviewer Whitney Balliett declared in the New Yorker that Armstrong created the sort of super, almost celestial art that few men master; transcending both its means and its materials, it attained a disembodied beauty. Apparently, fans all over the world agreed with this assessment, for during his lifetime Armstrong made extremely successful tours to several countries, including some in Africa and behind the Iron Curtain.

Armstrong was born July 4, 1900, in a poor black neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. His parents separated when he was five years old. His poverty has been described as a key factor in the discovery of his affinity for music, however, for he sang in the streets for pennies as a child. When Armstrong was 13 years old, he fired a pistol into the air to celebrate New Years Eve and was punished by authorities by being sent to the Negro Waifs Home. This incident proved somewhat providential: the home had a bandmaster who took an interest in the youth and taught him to play the bugle. By the time of his release from the facility, Armstrong had graduated to the cornet and knew how to read music. Working odd jobs, he scrounged up the money to continue lessons with one of his musical idols, Joe King Oliver.

From 1917 to 1922, Armstrong played cornet for local New Orleans Dixieland jazz bands. He also tried his hand at writing songs, but was only partially rewardedhe saw his composition I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate published, but the company reportedly cheated him out of both payment and byline. Then Oliver, who led a successful band in Chicago, sent for Armstrong. As second cornetist for Oliver, the young jazzman made his first recordings. In 1924, Armstrong enjoyed a brief stint with bandleader and arranger Fletcher Henderson in New York City. By the time jazz pianist Lil

At a Glance

Full name, Daniel Louis Armstrong; nickname, Satchmo; born July 4, 1900, in New Orleans, Louisiana; died July 6, 1971, on Long Island, New York; son of Willie (a turpentine worker) and Mary Ann (a domestic servant) Armstrong; married Daisy Parker (divorced, 1917); married Lil Hardin (a jazz pianist), February 5, 1924 (divorced, 1932); married Lucille Wilson (a singer), 1942.

Worked odd jobs as a boy, including delivering milk and coal and selling newspapers and bananas; played the cornet with various bands in the New Orleans area, c. 1917-22; played with King Olivers Original Creole Jazz Band, c. 1922-24; played trumpet with Fletcher Henderson in New York City, 1924; played trumpet independently and fronted his own bands, including the Hot Five and the Hot Seven, 1925-71; recording artist beginning in the early 1920s.

Appeared in Broadway shows, including Hot Chocolates and Swingin the Dream; appeared in motion pictures, including Pennies from Heaven, Columbia, 1936, Every Days a Holiday, Paramount, 1937, Going Places, Warner, 1938, Dr. Rhythm, Paramount, 1938, Cabin in the Sky, MGM, 1943, lam Session Columbia, 1944, New Orleans, United Artists, 1947, The Strip, MGM, 1951, Glory Alley, MGM, 1952, The Glenn Miller Story, United Artists, 1954, High Society, MGM, 1957, The Five Pennies, Paramount, 1959, A Man Called Adam, Embassy, 1966, and Hello, Dolly, 1969.

Awards: West End Blues was one of the first five records elected to the Recording Academys Hall of Fame; won several periodical jazz polls, including those conducted by Esquire and Down Beat; honored by the American Guild of Variety Artists.

Hardin, who would become the second of his three wives, persuaded Armstrong to work independently around 1925, he had switched from the cornet to the trumpet. During the next few years he made recordings fronting his own musicians; depending on the number assembled, they were known as the Hot Five or the Hot Seven. Around the same time, Armstrong is credited with the invention of the jazz technique of scat singinglegend has it that Armstrong dropped his sheet music during a recording session and had to substitute vocal improvisations until someone picked up the sheets for him. Also during this period, his experimentations led him to break free of the more rigid Dixieland style of jazz to pave the way for a more modern jazz genre.

But in 1930, Armstrong began taking yet a different direction with his career, performing with larger bands and recording more pop-sounding songs. Jazz purists fault him for this move, but others point out that he helped inspire the later swing sound. Nevertheless, Armstrong was still identified with jazz by the public, and on his extensive European tours was considered an ambassador of the genre. When he gave a concert in Ghana, he was considered a hero by its natives; he also performed a few times before the British royal family. It was in England that he won the nickname Satchmo, a distortion of satchelmouth, which described the extent to which his cheeks puffed out when he played the trumpet.

Noted for Roles in Musical Films

Armstrong also helped spread jazzs popularity throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s by appearing in musical roles in several films, from Pennies from Heaven in 1936 to Hello, Dolly in 1969. He was probably included in the latter because his recording of the title song in 1964 sold over two million copies and momentarily displaced the then-phenomenal Beatles from the pop charts. Armstrong also made successful recordings of popular songs such as Mack the Knife and Blueberry Hill and, as late as 1968, scored a chart hit with the single What a Wonderful World.

Armstrong filmed his guest appearance in Hello, Dolly in between visits to the hospital. For a brief period during 1970, he was forbidden to play his trumpet by his concerned doctor. Undaunted, he made a couple of purely vocal albums. Later in the year, Armstrongs physician lifted the ban on his instrument; he did a Las Vegas show with singer Pearl Bailey and played a benefit in London. After a few appearances in 1971, though, Armstrong suffered a heart attack in March and was hospitalized once again. He recovered sufficiently to be allowed to return to his home in May, but he died in his sleep on July 6, 1971.

Achieved Posthumous Recognition Worldwide

Armstrongs fame and popularity, however, have continued long after his death. In 1975, a program dedicated to the jazz greats music by the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra toured the Soviet Union as part of official cultural exchange between that country and the United States. A bust of Armstrong has been placed on the site of the Nice Jazz Festival in France. And one of his hit records even became a hit again during the late 1980s What a Wonderful World was included on the soundtrack of the Robin Williams film Good Morning, Vietnam, received a great deal of airplay, and introduced Armstrongs music to a new generation of fans.

Selected discography

Hello, Dolly, MCA.

At the Crescendo, MCA.

Best of Louis Armstrong, Audiofidelity.

Definitive Album, Audiofidelity.

Louis Armstrong with the Dukes of Dixieland, Audiofidelity.

Disney Songs the Satchmo Way, Buena.

I Will Wait for You, Brunswick.

Louis Satchmo Armstrong, Archive of Folk & Jazz.

Mame, Pickwick.

Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography (four-album set), Decca, 1957.

The Best of Louis Armstrong, MCA, 1965.

What a Wonderful World, ABC, 1968, reissued, 1988.

Louis Armstrong with His Friends, Amsterdam.

July 4, 1900/July 6, 1971, RCA.

The Genius of Louis Armstrong, Columbia.

Louis Armstrong in the Thirties, RCA.

Louis Armstrong in the Forties, RCA.

Louis Armstrong, Bella Musica, 1990.

Sources

Books

Collier, James Lincoln, Louis Armstrong: An American Genius, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Jones, Max, and John Chilton, Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story, Little, Brown, & Co., 1971.

Simon, George T., The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Periodicals

Ebony, November, 1964.

New Yorker, January 15, 1966.

Elizabeth Wenning

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Armstrong, Louis

Louis Armstrong

Jazz trumpet player, singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Louis Armstrong was generally acclaimed by critics as the greatest jazz performer ever. Both with his trumpet and with his rich, gravelly voice, he made famous such jazz and pop classics as West End Blues, When Its Sleepy Time Down South, Hello, Dolly, and What a Wonderful World. Armstrongs influence on the jazz artists that followed him was immense and far-reaching; for instance, according to George T. Simon in his book The Best of the Music Makers, fellow trumpet player Dizzie Gillespie has affirmed that if it werent for Armstrong there would be no Dizzie Gillespie. Reviewer Whitney Balliett declared in the New Yorker that Armstrong created the sort of super, almost celestial art that few men master; transcending both its means and its materials, it attained a disembodied beauty. Apparently, fans all over the world agreed with this assessment, for during his lifetime Armstrong made extremely successful tours to several countries, including some in Africa and behind the Iron Curtain.

Armstrong was born July 4, 1900, in a poor black

For the Record

Full name, Daniel Louis Armstrong; nickname, Satchmo; born July 4, 1900, in New Orleans, Louisiana; died July 6, 1971, in Long Island, New York; son of Willie (a turpentine worker) and Mary Ann (a domestic servant) Armstrong; married Daisy Parker (divorced, 1917); married Lilian Hardin (a jazz pianist), February 5, 1924 (divorced, 1932); married Lucille Wilson (a singer), 1942.

Worked odd jobs as a boy, including delivering milk and coal and selling newspapers and bananas; played the cornet with various bands in the New Orleans area, c. 1917-22; played with King Olivers Original Creole Jazz Band, c. 1922-24; played trumpet with Fletcher Henderson in New York City, 1924; played trumpet independently and fronted his own bands, including the Hot Five and the Hot Seven, 1925-71; recording artist beginning in the early 1920s.

Appeared in Broadway shows, including Hot Chocolates and Swingin the Dream; appeared in motion pictures, including Pennies from Heaven, Columbia, 1936, Every Days a Holiday, Paramount, 1937, Going Places, Warner, 1938, Dr. Rhythm, Paramount, 1938, Cabin in the Sky, MGM, 1943, Jam Session, Columbia, 1944, New Orleans, United Artists, 1947, The Strip, MGM, 1951, Glory Alley, MGM, 1952, The Glenn Miller Story, United Artists, 1954, High Society, MGM, 1957, The Five Pennies, Paramount, 1959, A Man Called Adam, Embassy, 1966, and Hello, Dolly, 1969.

Awards: West End Blues was one of the first five records elected to the Recording Academys Hall of Fame; won several periodical jazz polls, including Esquire and down beat; honored by the American Guild of Variety Artists.

neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had a deprived childhood; his parents separated when he was five years old. His poverty was perhaps a motivating factor in discovering his affinity for music, however, for he sang in the streets for pennies as a child. When Armstrong was thirteen years old, he fired a pistol into the air to celebrate New Years Eve and was punished by the authorities by being sent to the Negro Waifs Home. Actually, this proved somewhat providential: the home had a bandmaster who took an interest in the youth and taught him to play the bugle. By the time of his release from the facility, Armstrong had graduated to the cornet and knew how to read music. Working odd jobs, he scrounged up the money to continue lessons with one of his musical idols, Joe King Oliver.

From 1917 to 1922, Armstrong played cornet for local New Orleans Dixieland jazz bands. He also tried his hand at writing songs, but was only partially rewardedhe saw his composition I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate published, but the company cheated him out of both payment and byline. Then Oliver, who lead a successful band in Chicago, sent for Armstrong. As second cornetist for Oliver, the young jazzman made his first recordings. In 1924, Armstrong enjoyed a brief stint with bandleader and arranger Fletcher Henderson in New York City. By the time jazz pianist Lilian Hardin, who would become the second of his three wives, persuaded Armstrong to work independently around 1925, he had switched from the cornet to the trumpet. During the next few years he made recordings fronting his own musicians; depending on the number assembled, they were known as the Hot Five or the Hot Seven. Around the same time, Armstrong is credited with the invention of the jazz technique of scat singinglegend has it that Armstrong dropped his sheet music during a recording session and had to substitute vocal improvisations until someone picked up the sheets for him. Also during this period, his experimentations led him to break free of the more rigid Dixieland style of jazz to pave the way for a more modern jazz genre.

But in 1930, Armstrong began taking yet a different direction with his career, performing with larger bands and recording more pop-sounding songs. Jazz purists fault him for this move, but others point out that he helped inspire the later swing sound. Nevertheless, Armstrong was still identified with jazz by the public, and on his extensive European tours was considered an ambassador of the genre. When he gave a concert in Ghana, he was considered a hero by its natives; he also performed a few times before the British royal family. It was in England that he won the nickname Satchmo, a distortion of satchelmouth, which described the extent to which his cheeks puffed out when he played the trumpet.

Armstrong also helped spread jazzs popularity throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s by appearing in musical roles in several films, from 1936s Pennies from Heaven to 1969s Hello, Dolly. He was probably included in the latter because his recording of the title song in 1964 sold over two million copies and momentarily displaced the then-phenomenal Beatles from the pop charts. Armstrong also made successful recordings of popular songs such as Mack the Knife and Blueberry Hill and, as lateas 1968, scored a chart hit with the single What a Wonderful World.

But Armstrong filmed his guest appearance in Hello, Dolly in between visits to the hospital. For a brief period during 1970, he was forbidden to play his trumpet by his concerned doctor. Undaunted, he made a couple of purely vocal albums. Later in the year, Armstrongs physician lifted the ban on his instrument; he did a Las Vegas show with singer Pearl Bailey and played a benefit in London. After a few appearances in 1971, Armstrong suffered a heart attack in March and was hospitalized once again. He recovered sufficiently to be allowed to return to his home in May, but he died in his sleep July 6, 1971.

Armstrongs fame and popularity, however, have continued long after his death. In 1975, a program dedicated to the jazz greats music by the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra toured the Soviet Union as part of official cultural exchange between that country and the United States. A bust of Armstrong has been placed on the site of the Nice Jazz Festival in France. One of his hit records even became a hit again during the late 1980sWhat a Wonderful World was included on the soundtrack of the Robin Williams film Good Morning, Vietnam, received a great deal of airplay, and introduced Armstrongs music to a new generation of fans.

Selected discography

Hello, Dolly, MCA.

At the Crescendo, MCA.

Best of Louis Armstrong, Audiofidelity.

Definitive Album, Audiofidelity.

Louis Armstrong with the Dukes of Dixieland, Audiofidelity.

Disney Songs the Satchmo Way, Buena.

I Will Wait for You, Brunswick.

Louis Satchmo Armstrong, Archive of Folk & Jazz.

Mame, Pickwick.

Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography (four-album set), Decca, 1957.

Verves Best Choice, Verve.

What a Wonderful World, ABC, 1968.

Louis Armstrong with His Friends, Amsterdam.

July 4, 1900/July 6, 1971, RCA.

The Genius of Louis Armstrong, Columbia.

Louis Armstrong in the Thirties, RCA.

Louis Armstrong in the Forties, RCA.

Sources

Books

Collier, James Lincoln, Louis Armstrong: An American Genius, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Jones, Max, and John Chilton, Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story, Little, Brown, & Co., 1971.

Simon, George T., The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Periodicals

Ebony, November, 1964.

New Yorker, January 15, 1966.

Elizabeth Thomas

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Armstrong, Louis

Louis Armstrong

Born: August 4, 1901
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: July 6, 1971
New York, New York

African American jazz musician and singer

L ouis Armstrong was a famous jazz trumpet player and singer. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential musicians in the history of jazz music.

Early life

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He was one of two children born to Willie Armstrong, a turpentine worker, and Mary Ann Armstrong, whose grandparents had been slaves. As a youngster, he sang on the streets with friends. His parents separated when he was five. He lived with his sister, mother, and grandmother in a rundown area of New Orleans known as "the Battlefield" because of the gambling, drunkenness, fighting, and shooting that frequently occurred there.

In 1913 Armstrong was arrested for firing a gun into the air on New Year's Eve. He was sent to the Waif's Home (a reform school), where he took up the cornet (a trumpet-like instrument) and eventually played in a band. After his release he worked odd jobs and began performing with local groups. He was also befriended by Joe "King" Oliver, leader of the first great African American band to make records, who gave him trumpet lessons. Armstrong joined Oliver in Chicago, Illinois, in 1922, remaining there until 1924, when he went to New York City to play with Fletcher Henderson's band.

Jazz pioneer

When Armstrong returned to Chicago in the fall of 1925, he organized a band and began to record one of the greatest series in the history of jazz. These Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings show his skill and experimentation with the trumpet. In 1928 he started recording with drummer Zutty Singleton and pianist Earl Hines, the latter a musician whose skill matched Armstrong's. Many of the resulting records are masterpieces of detailed construction and adventurous rhythms. During these years Armstrong was working with big bands in Chicago clubs and theaters. His vocals, featured on most records after 1925, are an extension of his trumpet playing in their rhythmic liveliness and are delivered in a unique throaty style. He was also the inventor of scat singing (the random use of nonsense syllables), which originated after he dropped his sheet music while recording a song and could not remember the lyrics.

By 1929 Armstrong was in New York City leading a nightclub band. Appearing in the theatrical revue Hot Chocolates, he sang "Fats" Waller's (19041943) "Ain't Misbehavin'," Armstrong's first popular song hit. From this period Armstrong performed mainly popular song material, which presented a new challenge. Some notable performances resulted. His trumpet playing reached a peak around 1933. His style then became simpler, replacing the experimentation of his earlier years with a more mature approach that used every note to its greatest advantage. He rerecorded some of his earlier songs with great results.

Later years

Armstrong continued to front big bands, often of lesser quality, until 1947, when the big-band era ended. He returned to leading a small group that, though it included first-class musicians at first, became a mere background for his talents over the years. During the 1930s Armstrong had achieved international fame, first touring Europe as a soloist and singer in 1932. After World War II (193945) and his 1948 trip to France, he became a constant world traveller. He journeyed through Europe, Africa, Japan, Australia, and South America. He also appeared in numerous films, the best of which was a documentary titled Satchmo the Great (1957).

The public had come to think of Louis Armstrong as a vaudeville entertainer (a light, often comic performer) in his later yearsa fact reflected in much of his recorded output. But there were still occasions when he produced well-crafted, brilliant music. He died in New York City on July 6, 1971.

For More Information

Bergreen, Laurence. Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life. New York: Broadway Books, 1997.

Giddins, Gary. Satchmo. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Jones, Max, and John Chilton. Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story 19001971. London: Studio Vista, 1971.

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Louis Daniel Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong (1900-1971) was an early jazz trumpet virtuoso, and he remained an important influence for several decades.

Louis Armstrong was born into a poor African American family in New Orleans on July 4, 1900. As a youngster, he sang on the streets with friends. In 1913 he was arrested for a prank and committed to the Waif's Home, where he learned the cornet and played in the band. On his release he began performing with local groups. Joe "King" Oliver, leader of the first great African American band to make records, befriended him, and Armstrong joined Oliver in Chicago in 1922, remaining until 1924, when he went to New York to play with Fletcher Henderson's band.

When he returned to Chicago in the fall of 1925, Armstrong began to cut one of the greatest series in the history of recorded jazz. These Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings find him breaking free from the conventions of New Orleans ensemble playing, his trumpet work notable for its inventiveness, rhythmic daring, improvisatory freedom, and technical assurance. In 1928 he started recording with drummer Zutty Singleton and pianist Earl Hines, the latter a musician able to match Armstrong in virtuosity. Many of the resulting records are masterpieces, the performances highlighted by complex ensembles, unpredictable harmonic twists, and rhythmic adventurousness. During these years Armstrong was working with big bands in Chicago clubs and theaters. His vocals, featured on most post-1925 records, are an extension of his trumpet playing in their phrasing and rhythmic liveliness, and are delivered in a unique guttural style.

By 1929 Armstrong was in New York leading a nightclub band. Appearing in the theatrical revue Hot Chocolates, he sang "Fats" Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'," Armstrong's first popular song hit. From this period his repertoire switched mainly to popular song material, which presented a new challenge because of the relative harmonic sophistication. Some notable performances resulted. His virtuosity reached a peak around 1933; then his style underwent a process of simplification, replacing virtuoso display by a mature craftsmanship that used every note to maximum advantage. He re-recorded some of his earlier successes to considerable effect.

Armstrong continued to front big bands, often of inferior quality, until 1947, by which time the big-band era was over. He returned to leading a small group which, though it initially included first-class musicians, became over the years a mere background for his vaudevillian talents. During the 1930s Armstrong had achieved international fame, first touring Europe as a soloist and singer in 1932. After World War II and his 1948 trip to France, he became an inveterate world traveler, journeying through Europe, Africa, Japan, Australia, and South America. He appeared in numerous films, the best a documentary titled Satchmo the Great (1957).

In his later years the public thought of Armstrong as a vaudeville entertainer—a fact reflected in the bulk of his record output. But there were still occasions when he produced music of astonishing eloquence and brilliance. He died in New York City on July 6, 1971.

Further Reading

Armstrong's autobiographical Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans (1954) is informative and entertaining on his early years. Swing That Music (1936), though ostensibly by Armstrong, was almost certainly ghosted and is of limited interest. Max Jones and John Chilton, Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story, 1900-1971 (1971), is a superb study and is particularly informative about his life during the 1930s. An outstanding critical study of Armstrong's records of the 1924-1931 period is in Richard Hadlock, Jazz Masters of the Twenties (1965). See also Louis Terkel, Giants of Jazz (1957). □

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Armstrong, Louis

Louis Armstrong (Daniel Louis Armstrong), known as "Satchmo" and "Pops," 1901–1971, American jazz trumpet virtuoso, singer, and bandleader, b. New Orleans. He learned to play the cornet in the band of the Waif's Home in New Orleans, and after playing with Kid Ory's orchestra he made several trips (1918–21) with a Mississippi riverboat band. He joined (1922) King Oliver's group in Chicago, where he met and married the pianist Lilian Hardin. His early playing was noted for improvisation, and his reputation as trumpeter and as vocalist was quickly established. A famous innovator, Armstrong was a major influence on the melodic development of jazz in the 1920s; because of him solo performance attained a position of great importance in jazz. He organized several large bands, worked with most of the masters of jazz (and with many of those in other musical forms), and beginning in 1932 made numerous foreign tours. Armstrong appeared in Broadway shows, at countless jazz festivals, and in several American and foreign films. His archives are housed at Queens College, which also maintains his Queens, N.Y., home as a museum.

See his memoir, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans (1954, repr. 1986); his selected writings ed. by T. Brothers (1999); biographies by G. Giddens (1988), L. Bergreen (1997), and T. Teachout (2009); study by J. L. Collier (2 vol., 1983–86); J. Berrett, Louis Armstrong Companion (1999).

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Armstrong, Louis

Armstrong, Louis (‘ Satchmo’) (b New Orleans, 1901; d NY, 1971). Amer. jazz trumpeter and singer. From 1917 played on Miss. river boats. Joined King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 1922. Played often with Fletcher Henderson's orch. 1924–5, then formed own band. Became world-famous as result of recordings in 1920s in which his virtuoso trumpet-playing and his idiosyncratic singing had enormous influence on jazz scene. Nickname ‘Satchmo’ a diminutive of ‘Satchelmouth’. Visited Eng. and Eur. 1932 and 1934. Made many films and appeared with big bands in ‘swing’ era. Formed his All Stars 1947. Appeared with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in film High Society (1956).

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Armstrong, (Daniel) Louis

Armstrong, (Daniel) Louis (1900–71) US jazz trumpeter, singer and bandleader, nicknamed ‘Satchmo’. Armstrong was one of the most distinctive sounds in 20th-century music. He learned to play in New Orleans, and in 1922 joined the King Oliver band. The Hot Fives and Hot Sevens recordings (1925–29) are some of the most influential in the history of jazz. In the 1930s he became a successful bandleader, his deep, bluesy voice featured on tunes like “Mack the Knife”. He also appeared in films such as Pennies from Heaven (1936), New Orleans (1947), and High Society (1956).

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