July 8, 2014

Ruby Braff’s Tribute to Louis Armstrong

Ruby Braff’s Tribute to Louis Armstrong

Hoagy Carmichael, the song-writer of “Stardust” and “Georgia,” remembered the first time he heard Louis Armstrong play, in 1921. He dropped his cigarette and gulped his drink. “Why,” he moaned, “why isn’t everybody in the world here to hear that?”

Something so unutterably stirring, he knew, had to be heard by the world. And over the next 50 years indeed it was. Louis Armstrong came out of the Colored Waifs’ Home in New Orleans and the honky-tonks of the red-light Storyville district. In Chicago in the mid-twenties his small-group recordings on the Okeh label with the so-called Hot Fives and Hot Sevens revealed an original jazz genius, full-blown.

Then and ever after Louis Armstrong’s time and phrasing, his tone and spirit made him the most influential voice in 20th century American music. We’re appreciating the man the world came to know as Satchmo. Thousands of musicians and friends called him Pops. Our guest this hour, the cornet star Ruby Braff, always called him Louis.

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