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Louis ?Stachmo? Armstrong Essay, Research Paper
Known as the King of Jazz, Louis “Stachmo” Armstrong
was one of the most important figures in early jazz. He
was said to have defined jazz music. Only Charlie Parker
comes close to having as much influence on jazz as Louis
Armstrong was born on July 4, 1900 in New Orleans. He
grew up singing on the streets of New Orleans at a young
age and had a troubled childhood. At the age of twelve he
was placed in the Waif’s Home For Boys for firing a gun
into the air. However, at this home for boys is where
Louis’s thirst for music took off. Armstrong learned to
play the bugle, drums and the trumpet at the home.
After Louis left the center he began going to
different kinds of night clubs in order to listen and
learn new kinds of music. At these clubs is where he met
Joe “King” Oliver. “King” Oliver was one of Armstrong’s
favorite musicians and the man acted as father to Louis.
Oliver began to teach Louis how to play the cornet and the
trumpet. Upon learning the cornet Louis started filling
in for local bands at the clubs and eventually started his
In 1917 King Oliver left New Orleans and Louis took
his spot in a band called King Ory’s Orchestra which was
one of the most well known bands in town. Louis spent
time on a riverboat where he improved his cornet skills
and also learned to read music. In 1922 King Oliver
called Louis to Chicago, so he quit playing on the
riverboats and left to go play in the Creole Jazz band.
This was a dream come true for Louis. The band’s New
Orleans style of music took the town by storm and soon
many other bands from down south make their way north to
Chicago. In Chicago Louis switched from playing the cornet
to the trumpet, which was to be the instrument that would
make him the famous musician that he was. Louis brought
his New Orleans jazz style north and changed the way jazz
music was played. While playing in Oliver’s Creole Jazz
band Louis met Lillian Hardin who was a piano player for
the band. In February 1924 they got married. Lillian
felt that Louis was too talented and was wasting himself
by playing in King Oliver’s band. She eventually
pressured him to leave the band. Reluctantly he did.
In 1924 Louis left Chicago to go to Harlem and play
in Fletcher Henderson’s band. Fletcher and Oliver’s bands
styles of music were a lot different from each other.
Henderson’s band played more Latin rhythms and waltzes
while Oliver’s band played rags and stomps. While in
Harlem Louis started writing and recording his own music.
During this time Louis did many recording sessions with
numerous blues singers like Bessie Smith, and Clarence
Williams. His music began to influence musicians all over
the country. In 1920 Louis invented “scat” which is a
type of singing without words. He adapted his idea of
“scat” from listening to other singers like Ella
In the 30’s he mostly toured the United States
playing and singing until 1932 when he went to England.
He stayed in Europe for 2 years where he became more
famous in Europe than he was in the U.S. The reason for
this was that racism in the U.S. was a lot stronger than
in England and was hurting his popularity. In 1935 Louis
returned to the U.S. and took 6 months off from his
trumpet playing because of lip problems. After this he
hooked up with manager Joe Glaser. He had known Glaser
when he was the manager of the Sunset Caf? in Chicago in
the 1920’s. Glaser remained Louis’s manager until his
death in 1969. Glaser took care of the business part of
the deal and left all the musical freedom to Louis. He
hired the Luis Russell Orchestra as Louis’s backup band.
The band was made up mostly of New Orleans musicians, who
had played with King Oliver. The
band was renamed the Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra.
Louis became the most famous men in America at this time.
Louis and his wife got divorce in 1938. He then married
Alpha his third wife. However they divorced for years
For the next nine years the Louis’s band kept touring
and making records. But as the 50’s began to approach the
people’s liking for jazz shifted away from the sounds of
the Swing Era. The Louis Armsrong Orchestra began to look
tired and record and concert sales were on the decline.
In 1947, Glaser fired the orchestra and formed the Louis
Armstrong Allstars. The band was very popular worldwide.
In a 1955-56 tour through Europe he got the title of
“The Ambassador of Jazz” when he played for royalty. A
song most recognizable that Louis played to people who do
not know his music very well is “What a Wonderful World”.
Not only did Louis have a Musical career but he also had a
star role in the movie Hello, Dolly. Many people loved to
watch Louis play because he such great showmanship. He
was a great performer and he attracted all different sorts
of people to his shows. Louis’s health began to fail him,
and he had to be hospitalized many times in the remaining
years of his life. On July 6, 1971 Louis Armstrong died
in his sleep in his home in Queens, New York.
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