06 July 2010

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

Louis Armstrong died 39 years ago today. Shortly after Armstrong died, Dizzy Gillespie penned this obituary for Satchmo (click to enlarge).
Never before in the history of black music had one individual so completely dominated an art form as the Master, Daniel Louis Armstrong. His style was equally copied by saxophonists, trumpet players, pianists and all of the instrumentalists who make up the jazz picture.

One of the significant factors in his art was the ability to sing exactly as he played. Before Louis, too, the role of the trumpet was to lead. He established the trumpet as a solo instrument. The distinctive quality in his style was POWER. He was known to have hit hundreds of high C's, one after the other, each with the same level, and to end on a high F or G. This was unheard of before. His melodic concept was as near perfect as possible, his rhythm impeccable. And his humor brought joy into the lives of literally millions of people, both black and white, rich and poor.

When the State Department sent me on a cultural mission to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America in 1956, the band did a musical history of the various innovations that had been created in our music. Needless to say, Louis was prominently displayed.

Louis is not dead, for his music is and will remain in the hearts and minds of countless millions of the world's peoples, and in the playing of hundreds of thousands of musicians who have come under his influence.

The King Is Dead ... Long Live the King!
Here are the two playing Umbrella Man:

Image via Columbia University

1 comment:

Camden said...

Wow! This is quite an interesting find. It's obvious that Diz had a great respect for the older musician. I love the clip, especially around 1:06 where they are trading. Diz comes in with this incredible bop line to contrast with Satchmo's style. This is priceless!

-Camden Hughes of http://www.Learnjazzstandards.com