In the early part of the 20th century, two orphans played significant roles in the shaping of modern cultural society in the United States. One hit home runs for the New York Yankees. He seduced a society with his feats of strength on the baseball diamond and we as a nation found out: “Chicks dig the long ball.”. The other played the trumpet and seduced the world with his horn and gravelly voice. His talent knew no limits. This month of July – July 16, 1971 – the world lost a legend, who created history with every note he played.
The more you think about the connection between Babe Ruth and Louis Armstrong makes more sense. Ruth stepped into baseball and totally revolutionized and reorganized how the game was played. To that point, small ball – getting runs on base, sacrificing your next batter to move the runner into scoring position and then finding a way to get him in – was the way the game was played. Ruth came in and just hit the ball out of the park., simple.
Louis Armstrong, to this day, remains the best trumpet player that ever lived. When Louis played, you knew it was Louis. There was no mistaking Louis Armstrong for anybody. Elvis may claim to be the king and Michael Jackson the prince. Louis Arm strong is GOD.
From the very beginning of his career, Armstrong’s trumpet (he started on coronet) blew everyone out of the water. No one had his phrasing on the trumpet. It was like he understood the instrument. He made it him and sing. The power with which he played it was unparalleled. Nothing muffled Louis and his trumpet. In early times, people were recorded by cylinder phonographs. When they brought Louis in, he was made to stand in the next room because he blew the damn needle of the record cylinder.
Louis Armstrong was no one trick pony either. As Jazz became more popular and became a part of America, Louis was always there. Great ones – Bix Beiderbecke, Charlie Parker etc. – came and went. Louis, he wasn’t going anywhere. The current “In Sound”; well, it was easy to find; whatever the hell Louis was playing. Simple.
As time went on, though, Armstrong would find himself criticized by people, members of the black race, of which, I like to think Louis wasn’t a part of; Louis was everybody – and we; every single one – we were Louis, took exception to Armstrong not being more vocal about racism.
It hurt Armstrong. They didn’t understand the game. Louis was schooling these boys and they weren’t even paying attention. Louis Armstrong didn’t need a gun or bomb to gain respect. Louis was respect. He was the model citizen; there are more ways to destroy wrong than by blunt force. Martin Luther King knew this. You wouldn’t hear no damn harsh words from Dr. King about our Louis. Look, listen and learn before you open your stupid mouth. You’re missing the beauty of Louis Armstrong.
His recording career is a treasure trove of pop music. Louis forgot more about pop music than MJ ever knew. Don’t take my word for it. The damn songs speak for themselves. Ain’t no one who says it any better than that goddamn trumpet.