The Artistry of… Louis Armstrong

He was a singular foundation influence on the uniqueness of jazz, America’s art music. He affected its culture and gave it its earliest sophistication and soul.

The artistry is instantly recognized worldwide — as iconic as the many rich ingredients of America, including, in his case, the much-spiced cultural gumbo and jambalaya of the ground zero of jazz, New Orleans. In socially sickening, maladjusted times when segregation was sadly, aggressively assumed, enforced, practised and sanctioned, Louis Armstrong was one of the first truly popular African-American entertainers to achieve cross-racial appeal.

As with similar experiences of so many jazz icons, outwardly, race became artificially secondary to the music. We are the lucky ones to have been on the receiving end of the sharing of his artistry — to have been able to know who he was and to have experienced him. All of it because his greatness so skillfully bridged and influenced generations of music creativity, with a career spanning five decades and including popular and early rhythm and blues music of the times.

The culture that is the music of African America simply evolved in tandem from earliest roots in the music expressions of first generations reclaiming centuries-old definition in music, song and traditions. You can hear it in every single phrase. It is in every unavoidable toe tap or finger snap; you feel it in every smile and head bop; it is as delicious as the pot it has been lovingly spooned from through the ages.