Thursday, August 4, 8901

Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)

Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901, New Orleans, LA - July 6, 1971, New York, NY) was a charismatic, innovative performer whose improvised soloing was the main influence for a fundamental change in jazz, shifting its focus from collective improvisation to the solo player and improvised soloing. One of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century, he was first known as a cornet player, then as a trumpet player, and toward the end of his career he was best known as a vocalist and became one of the most influential jazz singers.

Although Armstrong often stated in public interviews that he was born on July 4, 1900, it wasn't until the mid-1980's that his true birth date of August 4, 1901 was discovered through the examination of baptismal records, recorded as an illegitimate child.

Armstrong was born into a very poor family in New Orleans, the grandson of slaves. He spent his youth in poverty in a rough neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, known as “Back of Town," as his father, William Armstrong (1881–1922), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant, and took up with another woman.

His mother, Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942), then left Louis and his younger sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987) in the care of his grandmother, Josephine Armstrong and at times, his Uncle Isaac. At five, he moved back to live with his mother and her relatives, and saw his father only in parades. He attended the Fisk School for Boys where he likely had his first exposure to Creole music. He brought in a little money as a paperboy and also by finding discarded food and selling it to restaurants but it wasn’t enough to keep his mother from prostitution. He hung out in dance halls particularly the “Funky Butt” which was the closest to his home, where he observed everything from licentious dancing to the quadrille. He hauled coal to Storyville, the famed red-light district, and listened to the bands playing in the brothels and dance halls, especially Pete Lala’s where Joe "King" Oliver performed and other famous musicians would drop in to jam.

Armstrong grew up at the bottom of the social ladder, in a highly segregated city, but one which lived in a constant fervor of music, which was generally called "ragtime." Despite the hard early days, Armstrong seldom looked back at his youth as the worst of times but instead drew inspiration from it, “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans...It has given me something to live for.”

After dropping out of the Fisk School at eleven, Armstrong joined a quartet of boys in similar straits, and they sang in the streets. Cornet player Bunk Johnson said he taught Armstrong (then 11) to play by ear at Dago Tony's Tonk in New Orleans, although in his later years Armstrong gave the credit to Oliver.

His first cornet was bought with money loaned to him by the Karnofskys, a Russian-Jewish immigrant family who had a junk hauling business and gave him odd jobs. To express gratitude towards the Karnofskys, who took him in as almost a family member, and fed and nurtured him, Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life.

Armstrong seriously developed his cornet playing in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he had been sent multiple times for general delinquency, most notably for a long term after firing his stepfather's pistol into the air at a New Year's Eve celebration, as police records confirm. Professor Peter Davis (who frequently appeared at the Home at the request of its administrator, Captain Joseph Jones) instilled discipline in and provided musical training to the otherwise self-taught Armstrong. Eventually, Davis made Armstrong the band leader. The Home band played around New Orleans and the 13-year-old began to draw attention to his cornet playing.

At 14 he was released from the Home, and living again with his father and new stepmother, and then back to his mother and also back to the streets. Armstrong obtained his first dance hall job at Henry Ponce’s where Black Benny became his protector and guide. He hauled coal by day and played his cornet at night.

He also played in the city's frequent brass band parades and listened to older musicians, learning from Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, Kid Ory, and above all, Joe "King" Oliver, who acted as a mentor and father figure to the young musician. Later, he played in the brass bands and riverboats of New Orleans, and first started traveling with the well-regarded band of Fate Marable which toured on a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River. He described his time with Marable as "going to the University," since it gave him a much wider experience working with written arrangements.

In 1919, Joe Oliver decided to go north and he resigned his position in Kid Ory's band, then regarded as the best hot jazz group in New Orleans. Armstrong replaced his mentor and played second cornet. Soon he was promoted to first cornet and he also became second trumpet for the Tuxedo Brass Band, a society band.

On March 19, 1918, Louis married Daisy Parker from Gretna, Louisiana. They adopted a 3-year-old boy, Clarence Armstrong, whose mother, Louis's cousin Flora, died soon after giving birth. Clarence Armstrong was mentally disabled (result of a head injury at an early age) and Louis would spend the rest of his life taking care of him. Louis's marriage to Parker failed quickly and they separated. She died shortly after the divorce.

Through his riverboat experiences, Armstrong’s musicianship began to mature. At 20, he could now read music and he started to be featured in extended trumpet solos, one of the first jazzmen to do this. He also started using singing and patter in his performances.

In 1922, Armstrong joined the exodus to Chicago, where he had been invited by Oliver, to join his Creole Jazz Band, and where he could make a sufficient income. It was a boom time in Chicago and though race relations were poor, the city was teeming with jobs for blacks, who were making good wages in factories and had plenty to spend on entertainment.

Oliver's band was the most influential hot jazz band in Chicago in the early 1920s, at a time when Chicago was the center of the jazz universe.

Armstrong lived in his own apartment with his own private bath (his first). Excited as he was to be in Chicago, he began his career-long pastime of writing nostalgic letters to friends in New Orleans. As Armstrong’s reputation grew, he was challenged to “cutting contests” by hornmen trying to displace the new phenom, who could blow two hundred high C’s in a row.

Armstrong made his first recordings on the Gennett and Okeh labels (jazz records were starting to boom across the country), including taking some solos and breaks, while playing second cornet in Oliver's band in 1923.

Armstrong at this time was was known as Dippermouth, due to his propensity for refreshing himself with the dipper (ladle) from a bucket of sugar water which was always present on stage with Joe Oliver's band, and this may be the explanation for the older cornetist's Dippermouth Blues (1929), with Armstrong as second.

The nickname also aptly described Armstrong's unusual embouchure when playing, and damage to his mouth from his high-pressure approach to playing is acutely visible in many pictures from the mid-1920's. Wear-and-tear also led to his emphasizing his singing career because at certain periods when he was unable to play.

At this time, he met Hoagy Carmichael (with whom he would collaborate later) who was introduced by friend Bix Beiderbecke, who now had his own Chicago band.

Armstrong enjoyed working with Oliver, but Louis' second wife, pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong, urged him to seek more prominent billing and develop his newer style away from the influence of Oliver. She had her husband play classical music in church concerts to broaden his skill and improve his solo play, and she prodded him into wearing more stylish attire to make him look sharp and to better offset his growing girth. Lil’s influence eventually undermined Armstrong’s relationship with his mentor, especially concerning his salary and additional moneys that Oliver held back from Armstrong and other band members. Armstrong and Oliver parted amicably in 1924 and Armstrong received an invitation to go to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top African–American band of the day. Armstrong switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section. His influence upon Henderson's tenor sax soloist, Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period.

Armstrong quickly adapted to the more tightly controlled style of Henderson, playing trumpet and even experimenting with the trombone, and the other members quickly took up Armstrong’s emotional, expressive pulse. Soon his act included singing and telling tales of New Orleans characters, especially preachers.

The Henderson Orchestra was playing in the best venues for white-only patrons, including the famed Roseland Ballroom, featuring the classy arrangements of Don Redman. Duke Ellington’s orchestra would go to Roseland to catch Armstrong’s performances and young hornmen around town tried in vain to outplay him, splitting their lips in their attempts.

During this time, Armstrong also made many recordings on the side, arranged by an old friend from New Orleans, pianist Clarence Williams; these included small jazz band sides with the Williams Blue Five (some of the best pairing Armstrong with one of Armstrong's few rivals in fiery technique and ideas, Sidney Bechet) and a series of accompaniments with blues singers, including Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter.


St. Louis Blues (1925, W.C. Handy, with Bessie Smith)


Armstrong returned to Chicago in 1925 due mostly to the urging of his wife, who wanted to pump up Armstrong’s career and income. He was content in New York but later would concede that she was right and that the Henderson Orchestra was limiting his artistic growth. In publicity, much to his chagrin, she billed him as The World’s Greatest Trumpet Player. At first he was actually a member of the Lil Hardin Armstrong Band and working for his wife.

Armstrong also played with Erskine Tate’s Little Symphony, a quintet which played mostly at the Vendome Theatre. They furnished music for silent movies and live shows, including jazz versions of classical music, such as Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly, which gave Armstrong experience with longer forms of music and with hosting before a large audience. He began to scat sing (improvised vocal jazz using non-sensical words) and was among the first to record it, on Heebie Jeebies in 1926. So popular was the recording the group became the most famous jazz band in America even though they as yet had not performed live to any great degree.

Armstrong began recording under his own name for Okeh with his famous Hot Five and Hot Seven groups, producing hits such as

Big Butter and Egg Man from the West (1926)

Cornet Chop Suey (1926)


As his music progressed and popularity grew, his singing also became important. Armstrong was not the first to record scat singing, but he was masterful at it and helped popularize it. He had a hit with his playing and scat singing on Heebie Jeebies (1926) when his sheet music fell on the floor and he simply started singing nonsense syllables. As popular legend goes, Armstrong thus created the sub-genre and technique of scat. While Heebie Jeebies may be one of the first fine recorded examples of scat, such use of nonesense syllables was already in rampant use as early as the 1910's, being developed along with ragtime music. Armstrong did, however, confirm in his memoirs that he indeed dropped the lyric sheet. Long before this, however, Armstrong was playing around with his vocals, shortening and lengthening phrases, interjecting improvisations, using his voice as creatively as his cornet or trumpet.


Hotter Than That (1927) (Hot Five)

Potato Head Blues (1927) (Hot Seven)

Struttin' with Some Barbecue (1927) (Hot Five)


In the Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five recordings above, the group consisted of clarinetist Johnny Dodds, cornetist Armstrong, trombonist Kid Ory, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, and pianist-wife Lil (a quintet, rather than a sextet, despite what the title may suggest -- and, in a similar manner, a septet for the Hot Seven). Armstrong’s bandleading style was easygoing, as St. Cyr noted, "One felt so relaxed working with him and he was very broad-minded...always did his best to feature each individual."

Willie the Weeper (1927) (Hot Seven)

(1928, a reference to marijuana, for which Armstrong had a lifelong fondness)


West End Blues (1928) (Hot Five)

Armstrong's trumpet introduction to West End Blues remains one of the most famous and influential improvisations in jazz history.

The first four bars of the main melody in Eb,can be solfeged as Ri Mi Sol Ri Mi Sol Ri Mi Do Sol Mi Do
Ti Te


These pieces set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come.

Armstrong's work in the 1920's shows him playing at the outer limits of his abilities. The Hot Five records, especially, often have minor flubs and missed notes, which do little to detract from listening enjoyment since the energy of the spontaneous performance comes through.

With all the culinary-referenced titles above, it is not surprising that Armstrong kept a strong connection throughout his life to the cooking of New Orleans, always signing his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours."

After separating from Lil, Armstrong started to play at the Sunset Café for Al Capone associate Joe Glaser in the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra, with Earl Hines on piano, which was soon renamed Louis Armstrong and his Stompers, though Hines was the music director and Glaser managed the orchestra. Hines and Armstrong became fast friends as well as successful collaborators.

His recordings with pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines -- including
Weatherbird (1928) are also among his finest.


Armstrong returned to New York, in 1929, where he played in the pit orchestra of the successful musical Hot Chocolate, an all-black revue written by Andy Razaf and pianist/composer Fats Waller. He also made a cameo appearance as a vocalist, regularly stealing the show with his rendition of Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' (1929), Armstrong's version of the song becoming his biggest selling record to date.


Cheesecake (1930)


Armstrong sang out "I done forgot the words" in the middle of recording I'm A Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas (1930). His nonsense vocal recordings became hits such that scat singing became a major part of his performances.


Sweethearts on Parade (1930)


His 1930's recordings took full advantage of the new RCA ribbon microphone, introduced in 1931, which imparted a characteristic warmth to vocals and immediately became an intrinsic part of the 'crooning' sound of artists like Bing Crosby. Armstrong's famous interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded, showcasing Armstrong's unique vocal sound and style, and his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.

Armstrong's nickname "Satchmo" or "Satch" is short for "Satchelmouth" (describing his embouchure). In 1932, then Melody Maker magazine editor Percy Brooks greeted Armstrong in London with "Hello, Satchmo!" shortening Satchelmouth (some say unintentionally), and the name stuck.

Friends and fellow musicians usually called him Pops, which is also how Armstrong usually addressed his friends and fellow musicians (except for Pops Foster, whom Armstrong always called "George").


I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues


Armstrong started to work at Connie’s Inn in Harlem, the second nightspot in fame to the Cotton Club, and a front for gangster Dutch Schultz, and also had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of other famous songs composed by friend Carmichael.

By the mid 30's, Armstrong achieved a smooth assurance on trumpet, knowing exactly what he could do and carrying out his ideas with perfectionism.

As with his trumpet playing, Armstrong's vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gritty coloration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated. His scat singing style was enriched by his matchless experience as a trumpet soloist. His resonant, velvety lower-register tone and bubbling cadences on sides such as Lazy River exerted a huge influence on younger white singers such as Bing Crosby.

The Depression of the early 30's was especially hard on the Jazz scene. Bix Beiderbecke died and Fletcher Henderson’s band broke up. King Olivier made a few records but otherwise struggled. Sidney Bechet became a tailor and Kid Ory returned to New Orleans and raised chickens.

Armstrong moved to Los Angeles and played at the New Cotton Club with Lionel Hampton on drums, and the band drew the Hollywood crowd which could still afford a lavish night life, and radio broadcasts from the club connected with younger audiences at home, with Bing Crosby a regular at the club. In 1931, Armstrong appeared in his first movie, Ex-Flame. Armstrong was convicted of marijuana possession but received a suspended sentence. He returned to Chicago in late 1931, and played in sweet jazz bands. When the mob insisted that he get out of town, Armstrong visited New Orleans and received a hero’s welcome. But soon he was on the road again and after a tour across the country shadowed by the mob, Armstrong decided to go to Europe to escape.

Armstrong's influence upon Bing Crosby is particularly important with regard to the subsequent development of popular music: Crosby admired and copied Armstrong, as is evident on many of his early recordings, notably Just One More Chance (1931). The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz describes Crosby's debt to Armstrong in perfect detail, although it does not acknowledge Armstrong by name: "Crosby...was important in introducing into the mainstream of popular singing an Afro-American concept of song as a lyrical extension of speech...His techniques - easing the weight of the breath on the vocal cords, passing into a head voice at a low register, using forward production to aid distinct enunciation, singing on consonants (a practice of black singers), and making discreet use of appoggiaturas, mordents, and slurs to emphasize the text - were emulated by nearly all later popular singers."

After returning to the States, he undertook several exhausting tours. His agent Johnny Collins’ erratic behavior and his own spending ways left Armstrong short of cash. Breach of contract violations plagued him. Finally, he hired Joe Glaser as his new manager, a tough mob-connected wheeler-dealer, who began to straighten out his legal mess, his mob troubles, and his debts. Armstrong also began to experience problems with his fingers and lips, which were aggravated by his unorthodox playing style. As a result he branched out, developing his vocal style and making his first theatrical appearances and appearing in movies again.

As the Depression continued, The Cotton Club closed in 1936 after a long downward spiral and many musicians stopped playing altogether as club dates evaporated.

In 1937, Armstrong substituted for Rudy Vallee on the CBS radio network and became the first African-American to host a sponsored, national broadcast (The Story of Swing). He finally divorced Lil in 1938 and married longtime girlfriend Alpha.

After spending many years on the road, he settled permanently in Queens, New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille, though subject to the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley and the gangster-ridden music business, as well as anti-black prejudice.

During the subsequent 30 years, Armstrong played more than three hundred performances a year. Bookings for big bands tapered off during the 1940's due to changes in public tastes: ballrooms closed, and there was competition from television and from other types of music becoming more popular than big band music. It became impossible under such circumstances to support and finance a 16-piece touring band.

Following a highly successful small-group jazz concert at New York Town Hall on May 17, 1947, featuring Armstrong with trombonist Jack Teagarden, Armstrong's manager Joe Glaser dissolved the Armstrong big band on August 13, 1947 and established a six-piece small group featuring Armstrong with (initially) Teagarden, Earl Hines and other top swing and dixieland musicians, most of them ex-big band leaders.

This group was called the All Stars, and included at various times Earl "Fatha" Hines, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Arvell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, Barrett Deems and the Filipino-American percussionist, Danny Barcelona.

During this period, Armstrong made many recordings and appeared in over 30 films.

In 1947, he played himself in the movie New Orleans opposite Billie Holiday, which chronicled the demise of the Storyville district and the ensuing exodus of musicians from New Orleans to Chicago.
That same year, he was heard on the radio program This Is Jazz.

He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine on February 21, 1949.

He was criticized soon after, however, for accepting the title of "King of the Zulus" -- in the New Orleans African-American community, an honored role as head of leading black Carnival Krewe, but bewildering or offensive to outsiders with their traditional costume of grass-skirts and blackface makeup satirizing southern white attitudes -- for Mardi Gras 1949.

His recordings Satch Plays Fats, all Fats Waller tunes, and Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (including a rock'n'roll version of St. Louis Blues) in the 1950's were perhaps among the last of his great creative recordings, but even oddities like Disney Songs the Satchmo Way are seen to have their musical moments.


Mack the Knife (1955, after Kurt Weill)


Armstrong appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, usually playing a band leader or musician. His most familiar role was as the bandleader cum narrator in the 1956 musical, High Society, in which he sang the title song and performed a duet with Bing Crosby on Now You Has Jazz.


Porgy and Bess (1958, after George Gershwin, with Ella Fitzgerald)


He also made countless television appearances, especially in the 1950's and 1960's, including appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Armstrong's criticism of President Eisenhower, calling him "two-faced" and "gutless" because of his inaction during the conflict over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 made national news. As a protest, Armstrong canceled a planned tour of the Soviet Union on behalf of the State Department saying "The way they're treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell" and that he could not represent his government abroad when it was in conflict with its own people. The FBI kept a file on Armstrong, for his outspokenness about integration.

In 1964, he recorded his biggest-selling record,
Hello, Dolly!. The song went to #1 on the pop chart, making Armstrong (age 63) the oldest person to ever accomplish that feat. In the process, Armstrong dislodged The Beatles from the #1 position they had occupied for 14 consecutive weeks with three different songs.

Where some saw a gregarious and outgoing personality, others saw someone trying too hard to appeal to white audiences and essentially becoming a minstrel caricature. Some musicians criticized Armstrong for playing in front of segregated audiences, and for not taking a strong enough stand in the civil rights movement suggesting that he was an Uncle Tom. Billie Holiday countered, however, "Of course Pops toms, but he toms from the heart."

Armstrong, in fact, was a major financial supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, but mostly preferred to work quietly behind the scenes, not mixing his politics with his work as an entertainer. The few exceptions made it more effective when he did speak out.

In 1968, Armstrong scored one last popular hit in the United Kingdom with the highly sentimental pop song What a Wonderful World, which topped the British charts for a month. was featured on the soundtrack of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service the next year, and used in the 1987 movie Good Morning, Vietnam.

Armstrong even appeared on the October 28, 1970, Johnny Cash Show, where he sang Nat "King" Cole's hit Rambling Rose and joined Cash to re-create his performance backing Jimmie Rodgers on Blue Yodel # 9.

Armstrong kept up his busy tour schedule until a few years before his death in 1971. In his later years he would sometimes play some of his numerous gigs by rote, but other times would enliven the most mundane gig with his vigorous playing, often to the astonishment of his band. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under sponsorship of the US State Department with great success, earning the nickname "Ambassador Satch." While failing health restricted his schedule in his last years, within those limitations he continued playing until the day he died.

Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack on July 6, 1971, at age 69, 11 months after playing a famous show at the Waldorf Astoria's Empire Room. Shortly before his death he stated, "I think I had a beautiful life. I didn't wish for anything that I couldn't get and I got pretty near everything I wanted because I worked for it."

He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his passing, and was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City. His honorary pallbearers included Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor John Lindsay, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett, and Bobby Hackett.

He was an extremely generous man, who was said to have given away as much money as he kept for himself.

Armstrong was also greatly concerned with his health and bodily functions. He made frequent use of laxatives as a means of controlling his weight, a practice he advocated both to personal acquaintances and in the diet plans he published under the title Lose Weight the Satchmo Way. Armstrong's laxative of preference in his younger days was Pluto Water, but he then became an enthusiastic convert when he discovered the herbal remedy Swiss Kriss. He would extol its virtues to anyone who would listen and pass out packets to everyone he encountered, including members of the British Royal Family. (Armstrong also appeared in humorous, albeit risqué, advertisements for Swiss Kriss; the ads bore a picture of him sitting on a toilet — as viewed through a keyhole — with the slogan "Satch says, 'Leave it all behind ya!'")

Armstrong’s gregariousness extended to writing constantly on the road to correspondents around the world. He avidly typed or wrote on whatever stationery was at hand, instant takes on music, sex, food, childhood memories, his heavy “medicinal” marijuana use, and even his bowel movements, which were gleefully described. He had a fondness for lewd jokes and dirty limericks as well.

Armstrong was an avid audiophile. He had a large collection of recordings, including reel-to-reel tapes which he took on the road with him in a trunk during his later career. He enjoyed listening to his own recordings, and comparing his performances musically. In the den of his home, he had the latest audio equipment and would sometimes rehearse and record along with his older recordings or the radio.

During his long career he played and sang with the most important instrumentalists and vocalists; among the many, Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald.

Armstrong recorded three albums with Ella Fitzgerald: Ella and Louis, Ella and Louis Again, and Porgy and Bess for Verve Records, with the sessions featuring the backing musicianship of the Oscar Peterson Trio and drummer Buddy Rich. And, his participation in Dave Brubeck's high-concept jazz musical The Real Ambassadors was critically acclaimed. For the most part, however, his later output was criticized as being overly simplistic or repetitive.
Hits and later career

Armstrong had many hit records including When The Saints Go Marching In, Dream a Little Dream of Me, and Stompin' at the Savoy.

The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable. Yet, his irrepressible personality both as a performer, and as a public figure later in his career, was so strong that to some it sometimes overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.

As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation. Through his playing, the trumpet emerged as a solo instrument in jazz and is used widely today. He was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.

Armstrong is considered by some to have essentially invented jazz singing. He had an extremely distinctive gravelly voice, which he deployed with great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing, or wordless vocalizing. Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were greatly indebted to him. Holiday said that she always wanted Bessie Smith's 'big' sound and Armstrong's feeling in her singing.

On August 4, 2001, the centennial of Armstrong's birth, New Orleans' airport was renamed Louis Armstrong International Airport in his honor.

[C#, G#, D# Minor; B Major; I IV V in C and Eb]

[8901 Rodrigo / 8901 Armstrong / 8901 Hairston]