Louis Armstrong

American trumpeter, composer, singer and conductor (New Orleans 1901 - New York 1971)

Louis Armstrong played a key role in the history of music. He was the one who invented and promoted jazz as we know it today. A virtuoso trumpet player with a unique voice, he was the first real improviser soloist who brought himself to the forefront.

Louis Armstrong was born in a disadvantaged family of New Orleans. Sentenced to live in a juvenile reform school at the age of 13, he could have fallen into delinquency but met a music teacher who changed his life for ever. He started playing in orchestras, brass bands, clubs and since he was still unable to read music, he compensated using improvisation. Armstrong was then nicknamed "satchel mouth", shortened to Satchmo, because of the size of his mouth, acting as a satchel.

In 1922, he left New Orleans to go to Chicago and achieved immediate success. He made his first recordings under his own name as head of his band, Hot Five. His success continued in New York City, where he performed with pianist/composer Fats Waller for “Hot Chocolates”. He later toured the United States and in Europe for some concerts as the head of a large orchestra.

Now that he had become a real star, Louis Armstrong appeared in several films and performed in a number of countries under the sponsorship of the US State Department as a cultural ambassador. He recorded a couple of albums with Ella Fitzgerald. Due to his age, he performed more and more as a singer. In 1964 and 1967, he recorded his most famous songs: Hello Dolly and What a wonderful world, respectively.

Louis Armstrong was the precursor of modern jazz, he invented jazz as we know it today. And this is why he would influence all his successors.

Five landmark dates in the life of Louis Armstrong

1922: he left New Orleans to go to Chicago and plays in the Creole Jazz Band; he makes his first recordings.

1924: he played with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra

1925: he recorded under his own name in Chicago.

1929: he went to New York and then to Los Angeles. He travels to Europe.

1950: his new group was called "Louis Armstrong and His All Stars"

1964: he recorded Hello Dolly, his number one song

Five key recordings by Louis Armstrong

1949: On the road

1956: Ella and Louis

1956: Louis Armstrong and his hot seven

1964: Hello Dolly

1967: What a Wonderful World

1970: Louis Armstrong and his friends