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The Swing Music.Net Biography
"Satchmo" Louis Armstrong
One of the greatest musicians in Jazz history, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
The first jazz soloist to receive world-wide acclaim
The trumpet solos and vocals of the great Satchmo are  the most identifiable in jazz.
Louis Armstrong
Armstrong, Daniel Louis (Satchmo)
singer, leader, trumpet
Born; New Orleans, La., 8-4-1901
Died; 4-6-1971
Louis Armstrong was the first vital jazz soloist to attain world wide influence as trumpeter, entertainer, and show business personality. He was a strong force in spreading the influence of jazz throughout his life. Through his trumpet solos and vocal interpretations alike, jazz fans immortalize him. His Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings done in the mid 1920s had no parallel in jazz. He is also a well-recognized Pop music figure by his personable and throaty, charming and guttural jazz vocals.
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Jazz Radio Audio
The live feed of our Tuesday jazz radio show streaming online at 4:00 PM Pacific with a focus on the history of jazz and jazz that swings from the 1930s to today.

Our Jazz Radio Show Info Page
The sordid history of our jazz music radio show, est. 1985. Lends credence to the theory that FCC radio deregulation survival may be linked to narcissistically twisted disorders.

History Of Jazz Part 1
Early hot jazz bands, the hotel dance bands and the history of jazz music leading up to the Big Band era.

History Of Jazz Part II
The role of economics, early recording technology, and radio relative to jazz history and the Big Band era.

The Recording Ban Of 1942
Scans of a 1942 Down Beat magazine article detailing a dramatic event in jazz history during the Big Band era; the James Petrillo / AFM recording ban.

Webb Cuts Basie At The Savoy
Another of the many jazz magazine articles on the site detailing big events in jazz history. This piece recounts the Count Basie vs. Chick Webb big band music Battle Of Swing held at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom in January of 1938.

A common misconception about this legend is his date of birth; Louis Armstrong was born August 4th, 1901. For many years the public believed Armstrong to have been born on the Fourth Of July in 1900. The story, a fabrication created by crafty public relations men, made good print. Although he went along with the stunt, his influence in jazz, still being felt today, would be just as far reaching if he had laid claim to being born on "Groundhog Day."

Armstrong had what many, today, would refer to as a traumatic or dysfunctional childhood. Out of this environment was born a desire to succeed, be admired, and make people happy. Louis learned at an early age that music could lead to fame and money. He and his friends would sing for nickels and pennies on the streets of his native New Orleans and he saw how popular the musicians who played the funeral and celebratory parades were with the public. On New Year's Eve 1913, just 12 years old, Armstrong was caught firing a gun into the air and sentenced to a boys home for waifs.  It was here under the tutelage of Peter Davis, who ran the home, that Armstrong learned how to play the cornet and he was soon playing picnics and parades. Later in life Louis returned year after year to the same waifs home to spread his joy to whoever was housed there. He never forgot Peter Davis or the kids.

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Jay McShann Biography
Known as "Hootie" Jay McShann helped shape the 12-bar blues sound that came from Kansas City during the Swing era. Photos are included with this bio. McShann died in KC 12-7-06.

Barney Kessel Biography
The jazz guitar great died May 6th, 2004 and left behind a vast body of recorded jazz work.

Benny Carter Biography
Benny Carter was one of the greatest arrangers and jazz musicians the genre has ever known. This extensive biography spans the entire lengthy career of the jazz legend.

Billy May Biography
The trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger died Jan. 22, 2004. May wrote many Swing era classics for Glenn Miller and Charlie Barnet and later for Sinatra and Nat Cole.

Count Basie Biography
This biography of Count Basie traces the career of "the kid from Red Bank" through Kansas City and into the later stages of his life as a bandleader.

Illinois Jacquet Biography
Our biography of Illinois Jacquet tracks his days with Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, through the Jazz At The Philharmonic years right up to the end of his prolific career.

During the mid 1920s Armstrong began recording the sessions that would become legendary with his Hot Five and Hot Seven groups. His first record under his own name was My Heart cut November 12th 1925.  For better than three years Armstrong remained in Chicago churning out a number of famous recordings that earned him worldwide acclaim. Many were with a pianist he had worked with in the Dickerson band named Earl "Fatha" Hines. By the time he returned to New York in 1929 both black and white audiences knew Armstrong the world over.

While in New York, this time around, Armstrong reached a pivotal point in his career; he led the Dickerson band and doubled in a roll on Broadway in the revue called Hot Chocolates. His first popular song hit came from this show; a song written by Fats Waller called Ain't Misbehavin'.

From then until the mid 1940s Louis played with a big band, his material now becoming "pop" songs of the day, rather than blues or original instrumental compositions. His singing took on a more dominant role in his performances and recordings and some of the groups his record label Decca paired him with were at best questionable. Jazz critics find much of his output from the mid 1930s forward to be of a lesser regard than his pioneering efforts in the 1920s even though Armstrong continued to spread the appeal of jazz, as popular music, around the globe as no one else could. While some of his "swing" recordings from the 1930s and 1940s provided many with the opportunity to enjoy him in a more "easy to relate to" and popular manner, others see them as evidence of Armstrong selling out to pop music.

One bright spot for improvisation's sake took place at the 1944 Esquire All American Jazz Concert. Louis took his rightful place that evening at the top of a list of jazz all-stars selected by Esquire magazine. He later humbly expressed his enthusiasm and appreciation of being there and playing with all the "greats" that evening but to a man, they had Satchmo to thank for making their careers more fruitful.

His new manager Joe Glaser had no trouble in booking and overbooking Armstrong during this period. The schedule he had Louis on was unbelievable, if not downright ludicrous. Many times Armstrong's lips were so overused they bled from his performances. Because Glaser had him moving about so much doing live performances, Armstrong was not recorded as much in the studio with quality backing as he should have been even into the 1950s.

In 1947 Armstrong led a sextet that was to become known as simply Louis Armstrong And His All-Stars. This small group, playing mainly Dixieland based jazz, proved an immediate success and became Armstrong's permanent touring setting.

In the 1950s and 1960s, following his Decca affiliation, Armstrong was recorded in a variety of settings; from small groups with Oscar Peterson on piano, to two albums with Ella Fitzgerald, to big band and orchestral accompaniment. The bulk of these recordings can be found on the Verve record label. He can also be heard on a live Verve LP called Jazz At The Hollywood Bowl as recorded in the mid 1950s. Although his Blueberry Hill and Hello Dolly were big pop hits at the end of his career they offer little for jazz and swing music fans. A more interesting and representative pop recording from his latter career would be A Kiss To Build A Dream On arranged by Sy Oliver and another hit.

Armstrong was given a bad rap by some as being an "Uncle Tom," a judgment laid on him by detractors that viewed his "clowning" akin to that of a minstrel act. However his love for Harlem, where he made his home, never ceased. Armstrong was outspoken and took an active role in Civil Rights issues starting as early as the Eisenhower era in the 1950s.

Louis Armstrong was the first great trumpet soloist in jazz. His unmistakable trumpet and vocals, while not as "hot" or improvisational in latter years, continued doing what he loved most, making people happy.

Anita O'Day Biography
Not your typical big band canary, Anita's voice was heard soaring over the brassy bands of Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton during the Swing era. She later released a number of fine swinging albums for Norman Granz on his Clef, Norgran and Verve record labels. She died 11-23-06 at 87.

Ray Charles Biography
Known as "The Genius" Ray Charles recorded a wide variety of music but got his start playing big band music and jazz. He passed away 6-10-04.

Shirley Horn Biography
Shirley Horn predated Dianna Krall and Harry Connick Jr.as the premiere singing pianist in jazz since Nat "King" Cole. The use of pauses and breaks in her playing and singing ala Basie and Ahmad Jamal conveyed a relaxed, confident feeling of swing. She passed away in October of 2005.

Louis Armstrong Biography
The trumpet solos and vocals of the great Satchmo are the most identifiable in jazz. This biography traces the career of Louis Armstrong from his days in New Orleans.

Dakota Staton Biography
In her early career Dakota Staton showed the influences of Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. In later years her huskier tone leaned more toward blues and gospel. Discography is included.

Nina Simone Biography
Nina Simone was a classically trained pianist who switched to jazz. Throughout her career she crossed over into many other genres of music.

Jazz radio host Jeff Parker with Nipper
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