Brain Pickings

Remembering Louis Armstrong: Satchmo, the Documentary

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Celebrating the life, wizardry and legacy of one of the greatest musicians that ever lived.

Dipper. Satchmo. Pops. The great Louis Armstrong, with his creative cornet and trumpet mastery, his distinctively gravelly voice and his remarkable stage charisma, not only revolutionized the American public’s relationship with jazz, but was also one of the first African-American entertainers equally revered by black and white audiences in a severely racially divided country. He codified the art of jazz improvisation and shaped the course of musical creativity for generations to come, his influence permeating a multitude of genres, eras, styles and subcultures.

To commemorate his legacy, we’re revisiting Satchmo — the terrific 2000 documentary on Armstrong’s life and legacy. Titled after the icon’s nickname, short for Satchelmouth, the film is available on DVD and, with questionable legality, in eight parts on YouTube, gathered here for your convenience — enjoy.

Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.” ~ Louis Armstrong

For more on the man and the icon, Terry Teachout’s Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong is everything one could hope for and then some.

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