In his autobiography, Swing That Music, Louis Armstrong titled the first chapter “Jazz and I Get Born Together.” Dating his birthday July 4, 1900, Armstrong created a mythology that linked his own birth to the birth of Jazz and the birth of America. For some odd reason, historians believe his true date of birth to be August 4th, but Armstrong was definitely not wrong to connect his life with the beginnings of this American art form.
He grew up surrounded by music in New Orleans and in 1922, he joined Joe “King” Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, the burgeoning epicenter of Jazz at the time. In 1924, as the Jazz scene grew in New York, he brought swing to Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. His approach to swing became the definitive sound of his era. Recording with the Hot Fives and the Hot Sevens, he took New Orleans polyphony to its pinnacle. He went on to make many classic recordings in collaborations with jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, and Duke Ellington, and with his larger ensembles.
His expression on the cornet and trumpet was complimented and contrasted by his singular vocal style. He was lauded in his own time, and his recordings have been cherished by generations. We will preempt all regular programming from Friday, July 3rd at midnight to Saturday, July 4th at midnight to feature his music smack in the middle of our special Blackout: Visions of Liberation programming.
Don't celebrate the fourth this year ... Celebrate one of the foundational figures of jazz, Louis Armstrong, instead!