Armstrong’s Influence on the New Orleans’ Jazz Genre

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An artist is not only a person who invents their own music, but one who influences other artists to do the same. Louis Armstrong is an instrumental musician in the New Orleans Jazz for that reason. The craft he sculpted was appreciated by both the audience and fellow musicians. Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there is no more music in them (6). This is the kind of person he was, which reflects on the incredible pieces he put together. Louis Armstrong influenced the development of New Orleans Jazz due to his improvisational skills along with The recognition of Armstrong’s method was noted by other artists in the New Orleans Era along with the significant collaborations, only furthering the impact he had on that genre. The influence he had can be seen as he has jazz festivals and or monuments under his name and his charismatic persona attracted those who were unaware of him along with the emotional effect he elicited from those who listened to him; this lead to the overall knowledge on Armstrong as a composer and performer and the unique technique as a soloist.
In order to truly understand the ability and range of an artist, you must first understand who they are as a person. The experiences and personality of a person can have an immense impact on their ideals and values.

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Another idea to take into consideration is the social obstacles that they had to overcome and how it affects the music of the artist. This can shape their personality and or outlook on the way they see certain things. In this case, Armstrong was able to take those experiences and learn from them to formulate his own perception, both in music and life. Armstrong lived an interesting life, in which he was able to overcome with his music. He was born into poverty, consequently setting him up for a difficult childhood of labor and hunger. He was singing on the streets of New Orleans, unaware of whether or not he would be lucky enough to see another day due to starvation or the danger of being homeless. At the age of 12, he was incarcerated at a house where he learned the methods of other artists and was exposed to the development of music in general (3). He was introduced to the mouthpiece of a cornet and set out the rest of his life to fulfill his dream of being a musician. Artists’ like to write music or art based on the effect it had on them and how it plays a big role in the way they view life. This is incredibly imperative to understand the carefree spirit that Armstrong had. Armstrong performed in areas of two different livelihoods; New Orleans is also notorious for having been an area of high saturation of crime. Taking this into consideration, the amount of gigs or their location always varied in it’s safety or status. For example, Armstrong would perform in areas in which the customers would be very aggressive towards each other and end up killing one another. Although artists at this time only wanted to play and get recognized for their talents, it is inevitable for them to feel unsafe or at danger, affecting their tone of music or even what the song is about. This can be seen in songs like When the Saints Go Marching In, where the tone is upbeat, with all the instruments being upbeat. The song was used on the way back from a funeral, as a sign of celebration of that person’s life. Death was obviously very predominant in an area of violence and danger. Another thing to take into consideration is that since this genre was in its earliest stages of development, anyone who had the talent and knowledge of playing an instrument such as the trumpet, clarinet, trombone or guitar. Louis’s choice of instrument, the trumpet, would revolutionize jazz forever.

The improvisation that occured with the songs that Louis Armstrong performed can be described as spontaneous but relaxed. The same can be said about his personality. The ways in which he improvised were that he changed the regular rhythm of 2/4 beat to a 4/4 one. Altering the rhythm of a song seems insignificant, but when the two are compared, it is definitely a big role. Louis was an alum of King Joe Oliver, which allowed him to develop his knowledge on the instrument he wanted to learn more from (3). The entire idea of improvisation is that artists have to come up with notes on the spot, which sounds fairly easy but it is difficult to execute. Especially in bands, where there are different things going on at once, making it harder for the improvisation to happen since everyone has to continue to adapt to your notes. For example, if the saxophone solo in a song is spontaneous and unknown to the rest of the band members, they all have to work together to change their beats if they have to in order to execute the sound they are looking for. But in that chaos, the music that Armstrong was able to execute and make art is one of the most recognizable parts of the New Orleans Jazz. It was usually seen in the bands that he was featured in that allowed him to express himself and display his many talents. He along with up to 6 members, would create records titled hot sevens. These records have also been claimed as the an important role in shaping jazz, In particular, the Hot Fives helped change the nature of instrumental jazz in the 1920s, shifting the focus from lively ensembles to lengthy statements by virtuoso soloists. (7).

Technique was a large aspect of Louis, both in the way he performed with his trumpet as well as his voice. He was known for his superior use of pitches, incomparable quality of tone, incomparable sense of swing, and approaches to heterogeneous sound ideal (Utpb lecture). The superior use of pitches can be broken down and analyzed in a way that allows us to understand why it was so crucial for artists to experiment. In the song, When You’re Smiling, the the incomparable quality of voice plays a large role in his musical capabilities: the trumpet and singing. He was described to have a scat voice in which the artist improvises with the voice, which could lead them to saying words that don’t exist or that do not make sense. This is an interesting quality to have as a vocalist due to the unusual choice of words with a song; even though it was different in music style, it proved to work for the overall recognition of Armstrong. This can be seen in the song, Dream A Little Of Me in which he performed with Ella Fitzgerald. Both of them can be heard at one point singing beautiful gibberish nonsense. Another characteristic of Armstrong’s’ music was the voice he possessed that was both deep, soothing, but raspy. An example in which his voice can be seen as very raspy and deep is in the song What a Wonderful World. This only made him more credible for his rigor in the world of music. Tone is another big thing to observe in the way Armstrong played. His tone La Vie En Rose, can be seen in the context of the quality of the sound in which he altered his voice to be gentle and at others projected more, a rather impressive tool. Since New Orleans Jazz was a somewhat ode to the African tradition, Armstrong was fond of the heterogeneous sound ideal: music that incorporates both the African tradition with a twist in terms of interpretation of timbres and other musical measurements. Attributed to the use of slaves in Africa, the descendants of those slaves would be left with the burden of passing down their oral tradition as well as call and response. Racial issues contributed to the likeness of the African Americans and their reinterpretation of their style of music. In terms of New Orleans Jazz or hot jazz, the heterogeneous sound ideal played an important role. As for his sense of swing, one can only go so far into depth. He had the gift of creating music that had not only an admiring beat, but the swaying motion effect that captivated the audience.

As with the rising and effective technique that proved to advance the opportunities Louis Armstrong would encounter, other trumpeters would take notice and learn to play in a similar way. Since the amount of musicians were increasing, and the competition was getting more intense, the importance of staying relevant had a lot to do with what was considered the best in that era. Not only the popularity of Armstrong’s technique helped introduce that style, but the actual sound of the music. This can be seen even at the time Louis began to learn to play under the instruction and advice of King Joe Oliver. It lives in the musicians themselves, in Leroy Jones, in Kermit Ruffians, in Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews, in Maurice Brown and all other trumpeters who summon Armstrong’s spirit in the annual birthday celebration for Pops. (4) Leroy Jones explained the effect Armstrong had on him, …Louis will always remain my first mentor. (4), by saying that the way he grew up and learned how to play his own instrument was heavily based on the way Armstrong played since he was such a fan of his. Jones attributes much of his current music to the influences of Armstrong, which is an important thing to consider when identifying the impact Armstrong had on other artists. This only goes to show that even after his passing, Armstrong had already impacted other artists of his genre and instrument that they took his music as a type of guide or standard example of the New Orleans Jazz style.
The monuments and festivals named in his honor as well as the testimonies of others only reflect the crucial role of Armstrong. There is an annual celebration of Armstrong, or Pops as other fellow artists refer to him, called the Satchmo Fest. This occasion is a memorabilia of all the contributions that Armstrong not only made for New Orleans Jazz, but for music in general. At these festivals, it is common to see similar artists talk about how Armstrong affected them. All of the trumpeters that come from New Orleans-whether we know it or not, or whether we acknowledge it or not, we live in the echo of pops, spoke Wynton Marsalis. Another musician that felt that Armstrong played an important role in shaping his music is Leroy Jones, I never want to find myself trying to copy someone else’s playing but I don’t think I really tried to make a conscious effort to avoid playing like Armstrong. The influences are obvious. (4). Leroy himself admits that he is indeed inspired by Armstrong’s music.

Armstrong’s personality was also an immense part why he is so known today, as a person of charisma and charm that could play into a person’s heart. He could evoke certain emotions with his music. The way a person carries themselves helps to draw in all types of people as an audience. He can be described by Wynton Marsalis made it a point to find the big difference between Armstrong and other artists, And everybody loved him because of the depth of his feeling and the depth of the meaning in his music. It wasn’t just his popularity; there’ve been other popular stars that had large audiences and were even venerated. But nothing like Louis Armstrong. (5). This quote suggests that not only was it crucial for the artist to be talented, but to be a kind person with a message in the music written. That way, audiences will be more probable to follow that person since they feel a connection. The suggestion that he’s one of us means people join him, whether he’s fronting a second line street parade, or exhorting a young crowd of festival goers to back that thing up. It’s a gift that Armstrong had throughout his lifetime, and it helps to explain his fame among people who know little or nothing about jazz.(4). In order to succeed as an artist, they have to be able to connect with all sorts of people. He was able to grab the attention of varying audiences. The charisma that he is described to have can be reflected by the amount of collaborations he participated in with other artists. Along with the charisma and approachableness, he was known for his meaningful pieces, such as What A Wonderful World in which he highlighted the beauty amidst all the chaos in the world, a nice sentiment and compliment to his persona.

The other important artists that he collaborated with include Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby. The collaborations with these two artists helped advance Armstrong both musically and in the business. As with all collaborations, the two artists combine their talents to appeal to a larger audience. Armstrong sang some of his most recognized songs with Ella Fitzgerald, who was a nice compliment to his technique in singing. For instance, in the song Summertime, the blending of the two songs made it appeal to both audiences and benefit them both.
In brief, Louis Armstrong had an immense impact on the development of Early New Orleans Jazz due to his ability to improvise as well as his unique form of playing his music. Other artists at the time noticed the methods by which Armstrong played, and this led to certain collaborations that furthered the influence of Armstrong. The memorabilia that came after the era of Pops can also be attributed to his impact. Not only did Armstrong have the charisma and personality that appealed to a large audience, but he also had the gift of evoking emotion of the audience, an authentic characteristics that made him known.

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Armstrong's influence on the New Orleans' Jazz Genre. (2020, Jun 17). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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