By 1959 Louis Armstrong was a worldwide star. In the nearly sixty years previous he had gone from being a fatherless street kid in New Orleans to the man who popularized jazz, that great and chaotic mix that characterized the artistic awakening of a nation built from a thousand pieces. Louis was the first true jazz soloist, and the man who modernized the artform through an injection of huge, infectious character in his playing style.
Here he is on stage with his famous All Stars (with the exception of Jack Teagarden and Barney Bigard) in Anvers, Belgium. Although, by this stage of his career, jazz had grown beyond many of the interpretations he delivers, there is no denying the electric charisma of a man who had been there, seen it all, and turned it into something accessible and invigorating. In October of that same year Louis suffered a stroke which seriously affected his playing capabilities. Though he continued recording until his death in 1971, this is one of the last times we saw him in the possession of his miraculous gifts.
Sonuma Archives 1958
The Queen of Jazz sings “Angel Eyes”, “April In...