I feel strongly that Louis Armstrong was one of the foremost geniuses of the 20th Century. Not just for the jazz world, or the music world, but in every aspect, Louis Armstrong accords respect as an innovator, and creator of themes emulated, copied and echoed by others. A genius, in other words.
I would have never guessed, but Louis Armstrong was a guest on the Johnny Cash Show. This and the story about Satchmo and Jimmie Rogers show how diverse musical tastes these men had and once again that music is a great connector.
This is from episode 38, Oct., 28, 1970 and must be one of Satchmo’s last performances. He was such a great performer right to the end and the Nashville audience and Johnny just loved him.
Louis Armstrong cracks everybody up at the start of the song: Let’s give it to ’em in black and white.
THIS AND OTHER GREAT PERFORMANCES ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON A 2-DVD-SET “BEST OF THE JOHNNY CASH TV SHOW”
Jason Kottke links to this Paris Review sampler of some of Louis Armstrong’s visual art:
When not pressing the valves on his trumpet or the record button on his tape recorder, Armstrong’s fingers found other arts with which to occupy themselves. One of them was collage, which became a visual outlet for his improvisational genius. The story goes that he did a series of collages on paper and tacked them up on the wall of his den, but Lucille, who had supervised the purchase and interior decoration of their house in Corona, Queens, objected. Armstrong decided to use his extensive library of tapes as a canvas instead, and the result is a collection of some five hundred decorated reel-to-reel boxes, one thousand collages counting front and back. The collages feature photographs of Armstrong with friends (like the snapshot captioned “Taken at Catherine and Count Basie’s swimming pool, at his birthday party, August 1969”) and with fans (Armstrong seems never to have refused a photo op or an autograph); congratulatory telegrams and clippings from reviews of his performances; a blessing from the Vatican (as reassembled by Louis, the first lines read: “Mr. and Mrs. Most Holy Father Louis Armstrong”); and cutouts from packages of Swiss Kriss herbal laxatives, which, judging from the label’s ubiquity in these pieces, were as much a staple of Armstrong’s daily life as playing the horn. Only occasionally do the collages indicate the musical content within; usually there is no correlation. Armstrong made generous use of various kinds of adhesive tape not only to attach images to each box but also to laminate, frame, or highlight them. The works are untitled and undated, but he was making them as early as the 1950s; in a letter from 1953 he wrote, “Well, you know, my hobbie (one of them anyway) is using a lot of scotch tape . . . My hobbie is to pick out the different things during what I read and piece them together and [make] a little story of my own.”
[Click to read more of The Paris Review – Reel to Reel]
and we posted this a year or so ago…
One of the classic Depression-era musical cartoons created by Max and Dave Fleischer. Satchmo’s soundtrack obviously inspires the artists – even if the visuals aren’t in any way “politically correct” 70-plus years later.
Yes, besides the wince-inducing racism, this piece is a great meld of Fleischer brothers cartoon, live action of Louis Armstrong’s crack jazz band of the 20s and 30s – The Hot Fives and Sevens, and Mr. Armstrong’s floating head.
Jimmie Rodgers and Johnny Cash are important musical icons too, any fledgling musical historian should own multiple albums by both, but Louis Armstrong transcends them.