As the USA celebrates Independence Day this weekend, today StLJN pays tribute to the legendary trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong, who throughout his lifetime claimed to have been born on July 4, 1900.
Though researchers in the 1980s uncovered information showing that Armstrong's true date of birth was in fact August 4, 1901, the tradition of celebrating his birthday along with the nation's on the Fourth of July continues to this day.
Of course, Armstrong's legacy would be worth honoring no matter when he was born, for he was the first international jazz superstar, a virtuoso soloist who set the bar for every jazz musician who followed him, an innovative vocal stylist, and ultimately, one of the greatest popular entertainers of the 20th century. But you don't have to take our word for it, as there is ample video evidence of the genius of Louis Armstrong, and we've got some of it for you here today.
The first clip up top shows Armstrong and his band, the All-Stars, performing at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, as depicted in the famous documentary film Jazz On A Summer's Day.
After the jump, you can see two full length concerts by Armstrong and band, from 1959 in Belgium and 1965 in Berlin, followed by a 1968 TV special he recorded for the BBC.
In the fifth video, we return to Newport in 1970 for a documentary of the musical celebration held at the fest that year in honor of Armstrong's 70th birthday. The film includes interview, rehearsal and concert footage, and features guest appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Mahalia Jackson, Jimmy Owens, Bobby Hackett, Wild Bill Davison, Ray Nance, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the Eureka Brass Band.
The final clip is a short film originally produced in 1971 by Hearst Metrotone covering Armstrong's funeral, which was held Friday, July 9 at at the Corona Congregational Church in NYC.
In an indication of the esteem in which Armstrong was held, the honorary pallbearers included a cross-section of musical, show business, and political figures, including New York's then-governor Nelson Rockefeller, NYC mayor John Lindsay, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, newspaper columnist Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett, and Bobby Hackett.
For more about Louis Armstrong, check out the Louis Armstrong Museum official site, Armstrong's page at RedHotJazz.com and the tribute site Satchmo.net. For a historic appreciation of his musical and cultural significance, there's also The Artistry of 'Pops': Louis Armstrong at 100", a presentation of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University from 2000 featuring trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and critic Stanley Crouch.
You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...