Louis Armstrong, holding court at Basin Street in New York during his stint of May 1955 and captured for posterity on The All-Star Parade of Bands series from NBC Radio on May 14, 1955.
You can’t have a history of Jazz without putting Louis Armstrong at the head of the list. One of the most influential and recognized leaders in the Jazz world, Louis Armstrong was a fixture with American (and in fact, the world) audiences from the 1920s until his death in 1971.
But beyond Jazz, Armstrong was such a strong and popular figure, that his influence was felt very deeply in the Pop Music world. He became a pivotal figure stretching across many genres and movements from the 1920s onwards.
In addition to his contributions to Jazz, he was also a well regarded public figure and appeared regularly on Radio and later on TV programs, not so much focused on his music, but rather his charismatic personality.
Throughout all the changes Jazz went through, during the period around t his broadcast, Louis Armstrong weathered them all and maintained his unique personality and his characteristic playing (not to mention his instantly recognizable voice).
These days, most people would recognize Louis Armstrong as the one singing “What A Wonderful World“, which became an enormous popular hit for him towards the end of his life and has appeared in various Movies and Commercials. Although certainly not Jazz, it gave one more element to a fascinating and versatile career that has never been equalled.
For those of you not familiar with Louis Armstrong and his pivotal contributions to the world of Jazz, have a listen to this broadcast from 1955 and you’ll get a small idea of what he was all about. But seriously, you really have to jump into his music from the 1920s and early 30s to get an idea of just how revolutionary he was.
In any event, here is Louis Armstrong and His orchestra from May 14, 1955.