To celebrate the real 112th birthday of Louis Armstrong, Sunday August 4th, we will preempt all regular programming from 12am on August 4th for 24 hours to feature his music. Tune in at midnight on Saturday for the start of the broadcast, and keep listening until Sunday at midnight!In his autobiography, Swing That Music, Louis Armstrong titled the first chapter “Jazz and I Get Born Together.” Dating his birthday July 4, 1900 (as his mother had always told him), Armstrong created a mythology that linked his own birth to the birth of Jazz and the birth of America. While he may have fibbed about the exact date, he was not wrong to connect his life with the beginnings of this American art form. When WKCR began the annual broadcast in 1971, we didn't yet know that Pops was in fact born on August 4th, 1901, and neither did he! Now we do, however, and we are happy to celebrate both birthdays, factual and mythological with our traditional marathon treatment.
Armstrong 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 complemented and contrasted by his singular vocal style. He was lauded in his own time, and his recordings have been cherished by generations.