Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Praise of Louis Armstrong


What is it about the music of this man that captivates me.  I've been reading a biogaphy of Louis recently and it has taken me on a journey through his life and music.  For a long time I've had the set of Hot Fives & Sevens recordings and that for a while seemed to be all I wanted to know of Louis Armstrong, that joyous, primitive but exquisite sound.  And I seemed to be thinking that everything after that was just that old hammy Hello Dolly/What a Wonderful World pop stuff.

Luckily I bought Terry Teachout's great book, and it took me deeper and allowed me to appreciate Satchmo's later ensemble work, especially with the All Stars.  The Town Hall concert in New York in 1949 was something of a rebirth for Armstrong and, after reading of the trauma that he went through when his lip split some years earlier, it's a joy to hear him here on top form physically and musically.

I'm not a musical expert.  I don't play an instrument or even sing well but I know what I like and I like  the simple joy, sorrow, pathos, excitement, and naked humanity that Louis Armstrong expresses in his instrument and his voice.  There's nothing more profoundly beautiful in the world than West End Blues from his Hot Fives & Sevens days or most anything on the Town Hall concert recordings.  Later there is the better quality recording of the All Stars at Boston Symphony Hall and the sheer good feeling coming from that is also terrific.

So that's what's enervating me at the moment.  How about you?

1 comment:

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