by H.D. Brown
Where did the sweet melodies of jazz begin? And just how long have the majestic, towering Spanish moss oaks been here? The answers can be found along The Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
Today is jazz great Louis Armstrong's birthday. He would have been 110 years old. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Armstrong is remembered, and revered, for his gravelly voice, ability to break down racial barriers and timeless songs like "What aWonderful World" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." Each August, New Orleans celebrates the life of its native trumpeter with the Satchmo Summerfest. "Satchmo" was a popular nickname for Armstrong, and the festival kicks off on his birthday and lasts through the weekend. Music featured includes traditional jazz, brass and more, and special events include a club strut, jazz breakfast and Mass, and birthday celebration and trumpet tribute. Seminars on Armstrong and his music are also held during the festival. In honor of Armstrong and his birthday, intern Jake Cole has written a review of a new book about Armstrong, "What a Wonderful World," by Ricky Riccardi, who will be showing rare video footage of Armstrong at a Satchmo Fest seminar tomorrow. Jake has also compiled a list of the 5 essential albums and 10 essential recordings any Armstrong fan or emerging fan should have. So, Happy Birthday Louie. It truly is a wonderful world with your music in it!
by Jake Cole 5 Essential Albums Building a solid Louis Armstrong collection necessitates digging through endless singles collections. Such is the nature of music made before the fifties and even beyond. The lack of truly definitive box sets for Armstrong's material, or at least official or in-print box sets, makes the task all the more difficult. (This, however, is finally being rectified with the upcoming release of a 10-CD monolith titled Satchmo: Louis Armstrong, The Ambassador of Jazz, due out August 8 in Europe and hopefully making its way across the Pond shortly thereafter.) There are a handful of truly solid albums out there that fans should own in addition to the various compilations. These five a affordable packages are musts for those seeking to introduce themselves to Satchmo. 1. Hot Fives & Sevens Bypass Columbia's shoddily produced (and slightly more expensive) box set for JSP's more-than-affordable four-disc set that not only stands as the document of Armstrong's early years, but the definitive statement of jazz as an emerging art form. With these recordings, Armstrong rapidly evolves jazz from a staccato, folk-inspired group sound to a spotlight for elegant solo improvisation. Armstrong strains on some notes, but that is the price for innovation, and