Last year I wrote about why I don't care for Halloween. This year, I was wondering if I'd do any sort of a Halloweeny post at all.
But, I'll do a post in honor of All Saints Day which is tomorrow. All Saints Day is a holy day in the Catholic Church, and also observed (in November) in the Episcopalian and Lutheran Churches (and observed in the Eastern Orthodox Church on the first Sunday after Easter). The purpose is "to honour all the saints known and unknown" (by the way - notice it said "to honor" - not "to worship." Some people, Catholic or not, mistake that one).
Before watching the Ken Burns series, Jazz, I didn't know much more about Louis Armstrong than a few songs and his appearance in "Hello Dolly." I enjoyed his music, but didn't realize what a major influence he had on the development of jazz. Here's an explanation from the Wikipedia:
The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable. Yet, his irrepressible personality both as a performer, and as a public figure later in his career, was so strong that to some it sometimes overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.
As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation. Through his playing, the trumpet emerged as a solo instrument in jazz and is used widely today. He was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.
Armstrong is considered to have essentially invented jazz singing. He had an extremely distinctive gravelly voice, which he deployed with great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing, or wordless vocalizing, and according to some legends he invented it, during his recording "Heebie Jeebies" where the sheet music fell on the floor and he simply started singing nonsense syllables. Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were indebted to him.
Interestingly, he also was the oldest artist (at 63) to have a #1 song in the U.S. - "Hello Dolly" in 1964 (which knocked a Beatles song out of the top spot).
Here are some more Louis Armstrong videos on YouTube (you don't necessarily have to watch them. You can open them up in another window and just listen as you contine to browse the web):
"Basin Street Blues" (1959)
"The Blues are Brewin" - Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday
"Stompin at the Savoy"
"Life is So Peculiar" - Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan. A fun one - I was glad to find this one since I've had a recording of this for a long time (the video has little to do with the song).
"There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York" (from Porgy and Bess)
"Mack the Knife" (1959)
"Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" (1947) - Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday"
and, of course, "Hello Dolly" (1969) - Louis Armstrong and Barbara Streisand.