GXB15147 Louis Armstrong by George Sottung © Wind River Studios

If Jack Armstrong was the “all-American boy,” Louis Armstrong certainly deserves the title “all-American musician.” The jazz trumpeter and singer nicknamed “Satchmo” (a shortened form of “Satchel Mouth”) was born in New Orleans in 1900 or 1901 and moved to Chicago in 1922. It wasn’t long before Armstrong had set the conventional blues and jazz establishment on its proverbial ear. Forsaking the traditional New Orleans sound that saw trumpet, clarinet and trombone playing second fiddle to the needs of a larger ensemble, Armstrong’s innovative style stressed individual virtuosity and became the rage among blues aficionados. But Armstrong’s talents didn’t end with his personal mastery of the trumpet. He’s credited with creating “scat” vocals, where the human voice is used in place of instruments to improvise melody without uttering actual words. “Satchmo” even sang tunes with real words like Hello Dolly!, which in 1964 displaced the Beatles from the top spot on the list of best-selling recordings. Armstrong also appeared in other Hollywood movies including Pennies from Heaven, The Glenn Miller Story and High Society. In his later years, popular around the world, Armstrong became an unofficial ambassador for the U.S. State Department, performing in various Eastern Bloc nations and in Africa to the delight of millions.

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