Synopses & Reviews
Louis Armstrong has been the subject of countless biographies and music histories. Yet scant attention has been paid to the remarkable array of writings he left behind. Louis Armstrong: In His Own Words
introduces readers to a little-known facet of this master trumpeter, band leader, and entertainer.
Based on extensive research through the Armstrong archives, this important volume includes some of his earliest letters, personal correspondence with one of his first biographers in 1943-44, autobiographical writings, magazine articles, and essays. Here are Armstrong's own thoughts on his life and career--from poverty in New Orleans to playing in the famous cafes, cabarets, and saloons of Storyville, from his big break in 1922 with the King Oliver band to his storming of New York, from his breaking of color barriers in Hollywood to the infamous King of the Zulus incident in 1949, and finally, to his last days in Queens, New York. Along the way Armstrong recorded touching portraits of his times and offered candid, often controversial, opinions about racism, marijuana, bebop, and other jazz artists such as Jelly Roll Morton and Coleman Hawkins.
Indeed, these writings provide a balanced portrait of his life as a musician, entertainer, civil rights activist, and cultural icon. Armstrong's idiosyncratic use of language and punctuation have been preserved to give the reader an unvarnished portrayal of this compelling artist. This volume also includes introductions to the writings, as well as an annotated index of names and places significant to Armstrong's life.
"A fascinating collection of the unpublished writings of jazz trailblazer Armstrong, perhaps the most prolific writer among the jazz greats.... These revealing letters and writings give readers a fascinating glimpse into Armstrong's early musical influences, rise to fame, life on the road, role in the Civil Rights movement, and final years. Carefully preserving Armstrong's idiosyncratic style and adding previously unpublished photos, Brothers illuminates the character and times of a jazz icon."--Library Journal
"Louis Armstrong was a wonderful writer, vivid and candid, but until now his most personal reflections were known only to researchers. Thomas Brothers has superbly collected them in an entertaining volume that will prove indispensable to anyone who wants to understand the genius who transformed American music."--Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz
"This book is like a long visit to Louis Armstrong's house in Queens.... Delightful and revealing.... By itself, this book explains why Louis Armstrong was by far the greatest and warment communicator jazz shall ever know."--George Avakian, jazz record producer
"Scholarly but approachable and engrossing, the book adds vitally to our knowledge of one of the greatest twentieth-century Americans."--Booklist
Louis Armstrong, In His Own Words is essential reading on the life of this legendary figure and the early jazz scene."--Down Beat
Trumpeter. Singer. Actor. Entertainer. In his life, Louis Armstrong thrilled audiences worldwide and influenced countless musicians. But beyond being a revolutionary musician and an enchanting stage personality, Louis Armstrong was a writer--and he was prolific.
This unparalleled collection of Armstrong's candid writings reveals a side of the artist not widely known to his fans. With idiosyncratic language and punctuation that recalls his musical virtuosity, Armstrong presents his thoughts on his life and career--from abject poverty in New Orleans to playing in the famous cafes, cabarets, and saloons of Storyville; from his big break in 1922 with the King Oliver band to his storming of New York; from his breaking of color barriers in Hollywood to the infamous King of the Zulus incident in 1949; and finally, to his last days in Queens, New York.
Along the way, these writings reveal Armstrongs honest, and often controversial, opinions about racism, marijuana, bebop, and fellow jazz artists. Whether a devoted Armstrong fan or a jazz neophyte, everyone will find here an illuminating, unvarnished portrayal of this truly compelling man.
About the Author
Thomas Brothers is an Associate Professor of Music at Duke University and the author of Chromatic Beauty in the Late Medieval Chanson
. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.