by Hayley Outslay

        Louis Armstrong was a jazz musician from New Orleans, Louisiana. His amazing abilities as a trumpet and cornet player gave him a huge influence on the jazz movement, clearly defining what jazz ought to sound like. He was born on July 4, 1900 to a poor African American family who struggled to make ends meet. At the ageof 12, Louis was sent to a juvenile detention facility for firing a loaded pistol in public. It was here that he learned how to play the cornet, and when he was released at age 14, he took up an avid interest in music. He would go to clubs and listen to various musicians, mong them Jelly Roll Morton, and his father figure Joe “King” Oliver, who also gave Louis his first cornet. After that, he took advantage of every opportunity he had to play, such as marching in the Mardi Gras parade. After playing in New Orleans bars for a few years, Louis left his hometown to join “Fate Marable’s Band” in St. Louis. This was his jumping point, and from there he began to frequently travel and change bands, playing in Chicago and New York City as well. Louis’ wife Lucille toured with him and his bands, but before their marriage he had four divorces. Armstrong produced two solo records in 1938 entitled “Elder Eatmore’s Sermon On Generosity” and “Elder Eatmore’s Sermon On Throwing Stones,” overflowing with his unique “rumbling” singing style and trumpet technique. He died in 1971.

The Harlem Renaissance was a post- World War 1 era that contained innumerable aspects of a growing African American culture in the United States. However jazz wasn’t just an African American pastime, but a growing national craze. Both Blacks and Whites danced in “speakeasies” and bars to the fast tunes played by trumpets, trombones, saxophones, and drums. Playing music was a respected position of a Black American, where he was not looked down upon by the White population, but appreciated; as well as well paid. It was a step forward for the “New Negro,” who aimed for societal equality. The talents of the musicians helped to ease the widespread racial prejudice that was prevalent, and provided a way for Blacks to step away from their traditional roles as second class citizens. However, racial tensions were far from gone.

Mack The Knife is one of Armstrong’s most famous compositions. His deep and slightly muffled voice is filled with passion. His strong and loud projection awakens the listener and almost forces one to listen. The quality of his voice uniquely combines struggle with the feelings of extreme happiness and joy.

*Listen to "Mack the Knife" by clicking below



*The Sweetest Sounding Musician of the 1920's.......


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