Louis Armstrong

Greatly Appreciated

Louis Armstrong  (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo, Satch and Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer, singer and occasional actor who was one of the most influential figures in jazz.  His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz.  Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans.  Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an “inventive” trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance.  With his instantly recognizable gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes.  He was also very skilled at scat singing.  Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet playing, Armstrong’s influence extends well beyond jazz; and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.  Armstrong was one of the first truly popular African-American entertainers to “cross over”, whose skin color was secondary to his music in an America that was extremely racially divided at the time.  (More from Wikipedia)
My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” is a traditional Scottish folk song that remains popular to this day.  Several other songs by the Beatles were recorded at that time; Anthology 1 includes “My Bonnie (but not “The Saints) plus “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Cry for a Shadow” that were made at the same recording session but without Tony Sheridan.  On “Ain’t She SweetJohn Lennon sings lead; this song was a staple in their shows back in 1961.  “Cry for a Shadow is a rare instrumental by the Beatles and the only recording ever credited to George Harrison and John Lennon as songwriters.

The flip side of this first Beatles single, “When the Saints Go Marching In” could be described as the signature song of New Orleans.  The origin of this gospel song is unknown, but it started being played by jazz bands beginning with Louis Armstrong in 1938.  


(June 2015)


*       *       *


French Kiss (movie soundtrack) – The soundtrack for French Kiss, the Meg Ryan/Kevin Klein vehicle from 1995 has a lot of the sort of Paris-themed music that one expects from Hollywood (including two different treatments of Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”, no less).  The album starts off with a bang – “Someone like You” by Van Morrison and a lovely rendition of the Edith Piaf classic “La Vie en Rose” by Louis Armstrong – but the album has too much score and not enough songs for my taste.
(December 2015)
Last edited: March 22, 2021