Monday, October 5, 2015

My thoughts on Louis Armstrong

This is my first Blog post on music.

When anybody thinks about jazz, they usually think about Louis Armstrong.   I mean, the man changed an entire genre of music and helped usher in the Swing era.  His contributions to popular music were enormous, he cut many hit records, had a distinctive voice and of course many people loved him.  He broke down many racial barriers and influenced an entire generation of musicians. 

My opinions on him well, I still acknowledge the many contributions he made in his life.  I enjoy many of his early recordings as well as few of his hit recordings later in life, but I have a hard time enjoying much of his later output.  Maybe because I think it is too commercial or his playing is not what it used to be.  Maybe its because I think life of a world famous entertainer is that of a soulless one or maybe my tastes were different, I don't know.  Maybe I just don't care much about stuff that is overly-commercial.

My opinions on some of his writing on the other hand, well he sounded like a had a bone or two to pick with some people.  In some of them, his recollections about Freddie Keppard (a jazz cornetist I've taken an interest to in recent years) were just rather damning to me.  His recollections of Keppard being egotistical and being a 'fancy' player seems in contrast to the praise he gave to other New Orleans jazz musicians.  It is almost as if he is sweeping Keppard aside despite the fact that Freddie Keppard was in fact a very important cornetist in early jazz.  I'm sorry but I know he may have had a bad experience with him once but I think Armstrong's uncharacteristic negativity is kind of disheartening for me.  To me it almost sounds like he's starting to sweep Keppard under a rug, which I think is wrong.

As of recent years my interest in Louis Armstong has waned.  I still listen to his music once in a while but not as much as I used to.  I think that his style of playing is too widely copied to be special to me.  If I wanted to become a jazz player, I would like to find my own voice rather than copy somebody's playing.