Chapter 6

Report
LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND THE FIRST GREAT
SOLOISTS
Notes Based on Chapter 6
JOE “KING” OLIVER
•
Born in or near New Orleans in 1885.
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Began playing with brass bands in New Orleans around 1908.
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First called “the King” by Kid Ory in 1917, although possibly
already “past his prime.”
IN CHICAGO
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Moved to Chicago in 1919 to play with Bill Johnson’s Original
Creole Orchestra.
•
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
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formed in 1922.
• 1923 recordings introduced Louis Armstrong to the world.
• group fell apart in 1924.
POOR BUSINESS DECISIONS
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Rejected offer to open Cotton Club as house band.
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Eventual move to New York probably too late; by 1925 his style had been
superseded by Armstrong’s.
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(problems with teeth and gums interfered with ability to perform).
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final "mistake" was an extended tour of the South beginning in 1931. By
1936 he had ended up in Savannah selling fruit and vegetables and
sweeping out a pool parlor. He died there in April 1938.
CONTRIBUTIONS
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he "had a repertory of expressive deviations of rhythm and pitch,
some verging on theatrical novelty effects and others derived from
blues vocal style . . .”
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“He frequently used timbre modifiers of various sorts and was
especially renowned for his wa-wa effects, as in his famous threechorus solo on ‘Dipper Mouth Blues’.“
•
“Oliver was a good band leader, and his cornet playing was well
integrated into the ensemble. By 1925 his performance style had
been superseded by Louis Armstrong, but he had a significant
impact on Bubber Miley as well as on Armstrong himself.”
LOUIS ARMSTRONG
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“Louis Armstrong is the single most important figure in the development of jazz.”
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1st virtuoso jazz soloist (arguably with Sidney Bechet).
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Influential as both vocalist and instrumentalist.
INNOVATIONS
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Blues – established the blues scale (pitches) and blues feeling as jazz’s harmonic
foundation
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Improvisation – established jazz as a soloist’s art form
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Singing – introduced a true vocal jazz style (pitch, time, imagination); “scat singing”
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Repertory – showed that Tin Pan Alley/pop music could be performed in a jazz style
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Rhythm – he “taught the world to swing”
EARLY YEARS
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Although Armstrong apparently believed that he was born on July 4, 1900, a birth
certificate shows the date as August 4, 1901.
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sent to reform school at age 12, where he learned to play cornet.
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took lessons from King Oliver and took Oliver’s place in Kid Ory’s band when Oliver
moved to Chicago.
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played with Fate Marable's band from 1919 to 1921 on riverboats.
CHICAGO AND NEW YORK
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Armstrong moved to Chicago in 1922 to play with
Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
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made the first of his famous Gennet recordings with
Oliver in April 1923.
•
moved to New York to play with Fletcher Henderson's
Orchestra in September 1924; also recorded with
several blues singers including Ma Rainey and Bessie
Smith and with Sidney Bechet.
RETURN TO CHICAGO
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made first Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings.
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“Weather Bird” released in 1930.
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Briefly moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to form Louis Armstrong and his Sebastian New
Cotton Club Orchestra, but he returned to Chicago in 1931.
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By the 1940s Armstrong's style of jazz was losing popularity, and Armstrong had no
interest in the newer styles. He traveled extensively with an All-Star band during the
revival of interest in New Orleans and Dixieland.
•
recorded "Hello Dolly“ in 1963, "What A Wonderful World“ in 1968.
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On July 6th 1971, Armstrong died in his sleep.
OTHER SIGNIFICANT EARLY ARTISTS
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Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke
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Frankie Trumbauer
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Coleman Hawkins (will discuss after mid-term)

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