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TT 318: Dan Morgenstern, Gary Giddins, and "Roses for Satchmo"
The Critics Who Helped Turn the Narrative Around, plus Serious Cats Weigh in on Louis Armstrong (DownBeat, 1970)
Not everything can make the final cut. Dan Morgenstern only gets a namecheck in The Nation cover story, but both Ricky Riccardi and Gary Giddins said that a major event in Louis Armstrong reception history was the set of liner notes Morgenstern produced for Rare Items, the first LP reissue of Louis Armstrong’s big band music.
Gunther Schuller and others firmly derided this era, a critique that unfortunately became common wisdom.
(For myself, most of what I know about Armstrong’s big band music comes from Riccardi’s Heart Full of Rhythm, which I say in the piece is one of the best books on jazz ever written.)
Satchmo: The Genius of Louis Armstrong by Gary Giddins was the first book-length biography to treat Armstrong with due reverence. My editor Shuja Haider was particularly pleased to get Giddins’s voice in my article.
I wrote Giddins, “We would love to get a quote from you about the state of Armstrong reception when you came up…If you feel like doing this, write me something in email, or we can schedule a 10-minute phone call where I put you on the record.”
We only used part of Giddins’s thoughtful email, now reproduced in full:
For me, the first indications of the big change were Dan Morgenstern’s liner notes for the Decca compilation Rare Items, the first time his great big band recordings of the 1930s were available to my generation, albeit in simulated stereo; that these records had been dismissed as unworthy for so long was simply astonishing to my teenage self; and Dan’s subsequent five-star review of Mame, which I thought preposterous; I mean, if Mame was five stars, what the heck were the Hot 5s and 7s, or for that matter Rare Items. I left Mame out of the first two editions of Satchmo; not until the 2001 reprint, when I was asked to write a short introductory note, did I squeeze in a paragraph about it, having finally come to recognize it for what Dan said it was in the first place, an unsullied example of Armstrong’s robust and generous vision of musical universality. If you want granular details of my first encounter with Armstrong, read the intro to Weather Bird, the most autobiographical passage I’ve ever written. You may know that I brought him to Grinnell College in 1967, and that several students picketed the concert.
To your particular point, Morgenstern aside there was much superb writing about Louis (Martin Williams in The Jazz Tradition, Leonard Feather in From Satchmo to Miles), but even they focused on the early classics and seemed a bit stymied, even vaguely embarrassed about Armstrong the mugging pop star on Ed Sullivan. Gunther Schuller’s analysis of “West End Blues” in Early Jazz was revelatory; nothing I had read did as much to place him in the pantheon of musical expression, but he scorned two-thirds of his career, expressing disdain for his pop persona and actually suggesting that the government provide him with a stipend so that he no long had to perform “Hello Dolly,” which completely missed the essence of who Pops was, even if he could transcribe “West End Blues.” Indeed, Gunther’s combination of musicological brilliance and arrogant conventionalism made me think that I might be able to write about jazz although I could not play and had no musicological training. But Gunther’s view was the prevailing one. Remember that when Pops excoriated Eisenhower’s befuddled response to Central High in Little Rock, Sammy Davis called him a Tom and the columnist Jim Bishop promoted a national boycott: Louis Armstrong was un-American! When I wrote Satchmo, I obtained his FBI file, where memos debate whether his passport can be withdrawn and rumors that he may have been brainwashed by communists. Gerald Early wrote an essay about how his mother was embarrassed by Pops, and how Early felt disdain for the white critics who raved about him. James Collier wrote that awful bloody biography, which characterized him as a self-hating Negro and worse (and received a rave review for it from Michiko Kakutani in the NYT). Collier also wrote the Armstrong entry in Grove’s Dictionary of American Music, dismissing everything he did after 1936.
When Stanley Crouch and I first became friends, Pops was a major part of our bonding. His Village Voice piece on “Laughin’ Louis” cemented his arrival in NY and helped clear the air. When Lester Bowie and Sun Ra recorded “Hello Dolly,” reviewers said they were being satirical. Such bullshit. I never got to speak with Sun Ra, but I spent a lot of time with Lester and interviewed him on camera; he venerated Pops, as of course did Miles, Ornette, and just about every musician I’ve ever known. Maurice Peress credited Armstrong as the key reason that symphonic brass sections increased their use of vibrato. Still, when Dick Cavett did a show with Oscar Peterson, he asked him how good a trumpet player Louis Armstrong was. Peterson looked at him for a second and said, “He was a fantastic trumpet player.” Cavett changed the subject.
While writing Satchmo, I had misgivings about championing his mugging and exploring his relationship with the Jewish Karnofsky family in New Orleans. One night as I was completing the book, I phoned Dan, and read him some passages from Armstrong’s previously unpublished papers, nervously admitting that I didn’t know if I should include some of it (this was the week of Crown Heights) and Dan said, “Just trust Pops.” As soon as he said it, it reminded me of a passage in Kazantzakis’s Last Temptation of Christ, which I used as an epigraph in Satchmo.
Riccardi read this email and told me:
Gary is not alone—I've talked with Jack Bradley, Scott Wenzel, Allen Lowe, Scott Hamilton and others from that time who vividly remembered the impact of the one-two punch that was the music contained on Rare Items and Dan Morgenstern’s liner notes. (Louis Armstrong owned a copy and dubbed it to tape, too.)
I’ve read so much Gary Giddins and Dan Morgenstern over the years that they have merely become part of the texture. At times it is hard to remember the weight of their contribution. Whenever anyone writes about jazz, Giddins and Morgenstern are in the background.
Two pieces come to mind off the top of my head. Giddins’s essay “Fifty Years of ‘Body and Soul’” went straight into my veins — and not just as a writer, but as a player, too. Morgenstern’s liner notes to Lester Young’s Pres in Europe are as good as it gets in terms of portraying the romantic ethos of jazz.
The Giddins is collected in Rhythm-A-Ning, the Morgenstern in Living With Jazz.
My article boasts a nice quote from Quincy Jones (“Let’s just say it’s a shame that anyone takes him for granted, ‘cause everything after John Philip Sousa that swings stems from Louis Armstrong”), which comes from a 1970 DownBeat feature, “Roses for Satchmo.” Mark Stryker supplied pictures, and Ricky Riccardi had done a transcription.
There are many other interesting quotes in this priceless document. I’d encourage you to especially note Charles McPherson, Sun Ra, and Philly Joe Jones.
Roses For Satchmo
The following tributes to Louis Armstrong come from musicians young and old, traditional and futuristic, famous and little known. They are not presented in any obvious sequence—we didn’t think it necessary to arrange them alphabetically, or rank them in any strict order. We were unable to get quotes from everyone we wanted, of course, but what we did get pretty well covers the spectrum of jazz. There’s only one sour note; we kept it in for contrast. Even that, however, is not aimed at Louis, ungracious as it is. We wish to thank Jack Bradley, Jane Welch, Harriet Choice and Harvey Siders for their kind assistance in picking this bouquet of roses for Satchmo. --Ed.
DUKE ELLINGTON: Louis Armstrong is, of course, the man who, when he played trumpet, inspired thousands to try to play like him, to play the Louis Armstrong style. Hundreds of thousands more were simply inspired to play the same instrument he played. And who knows how many millions just loved to listen to him. Louis Armstrong is what I call an American standard, and an American original.
BARNEY BIGARD: To put it simply, he’s the greatest. Louis set a pattern for all trumpet players. Maybe you can’t put it simply after all. Louis is so talented, it’s really impossible to describe. I don’t know of anyone who has worked harder in this business. I remember one period—must have been in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s—we were working at the Blue Note in Chicago. Louis worked so hard that his lip just gave out—just like that. It lasted for about two weeks and he got mighty worried. But you know him, he just went along, and did a lot of singing and eventually his lip got back into shape. That’s the way Louis is—always coming back stronger.
BENNY CARTER: This guy is so wonderful, how can I boil it all down? Let’s say he’s jazz’ number one contributor, regardless of who came before him. And it goes without saying he’s jazz’ number one ambassador, but that’s not very original, is it? The best way to show how important Louis is is to point out that he influenced so many instrumentalists—and not just trumpeters. I offer in evidence Earl Hines. On a personal note, I was lucky enough to work with Louis in a number of films, but I regret never having had the distinct pleasure of playing with him. The closest I came was when I joined Fletcher Henderson’s band shortly after Louis left. I would really have liked to swing with him in that free and easy style of his.
RAY BROWN: He’s the principal musician, the principal jazz man. You know, the prime mover, the innovator. Everyone copied him. My favorite story about Louis comes from Roy Eldridge. He told me he’d heard some records by Louis but they never overwhelmed him. Then he caught him in a theater live and the first number he played everybody was standing and yelling and applauding. Pretty soon, without even realizing it, Roy was standing and yelling and applauding, himself. He said he stayed all day, saw all the shows and never even ate. As Roy said, ‘Louis was the cat who laid it down.’ I’ll have to agree with that.
DIZZY GILLESPIE: Louis? He’s the cause of the trumpet in jazz. Louis Armstrong? He’s the father of jazz trumpeting. What else can you say—his name is enough!
CLARK TERRY: Pops is the daddy of them all and without him we wouldn’t have anything to follow. I hope he’s around a long time to watch us follow in the path he laid for us. Anyone who is my age or older who would not admit that Louis Armstrong is their sole source of inspiration and guidance in jazz would have to be telling a lie!
STAN KENTON: There can be no dispute about it, Louis Armstrong is the father of modern jazz. We all derive from Louis. He’s the one man who has all the ingredients. King Oliver and the other earlier musicians like him had their specialties and they were all great in certain respects, but Louis had it all. And you know something—he still has it.
CANNONBALL ADDERLEY: The first thing one must recognize about Louis is that he was our first important jazz soloist. What I mean by that is his jazz improvising paved the way for all subsequent jazz improvisation. He was the first to play pretty embellishments on a melody but we could go in a completely different and more creative direction. That’s the debt to Louis Armstrong we’ll never be able to repay.
QUINCY JONES: What can you say about Louis—he’s the daddy. His playing has influenced everyone; his singing has influenced everyone. I’ve known Louis since I was a kid. In fact, his was the first band I ever saw. He and Duke form the most vital links that gave us the golden age of music. And to pay tribute to either of them would be an exercise in redundancy. Let’s just say it’s a shame that anyone takes him for granted, ‘cause everything after John Philip Sousa that swings stems from Louis Armstrong.
TEDDY BUCKNER: Louis has always been my idol. I think he’s the greatest trumpet player who has ever lived. He certainly has been a big influence on me. In his prime, no one could touch him, and as for his singing, he tells a story. That’s a true showman. Anyone who picks up a trumpet today, they’re gonna play some little bit of Louis. I’ve stood in for Louis in a number of movies going back to Pennies From Heaven. And I toured with Louis in 1956, with my own band. But you know what I treasure the most? He gave me one of his trumpets, with his name engraved on it—must have been 1936 or ‘37. He’s still my idol.
GERALD WILSON: The outstanding thing about Louis is that he was one of the greatest innovators among trumpet players. He had a great lip and was really a musical genius. I remember the first recordings by him that I bought. I had to wind up my Victoria so this goes way back. Another thing that goes way back is my first personal recollection of Louis. That was in Chicago in the mid-’30s, with Trummy Young and Willie Smith. When I say Louis is a wonderful person, I know what I’m talking about. He deserves all the great things that are being said about him.
JIMMY SMITH: I’ll tell you one thing about Louis: he should have been in the Hall of Fame—you know what I mean, the down beat Hall of Fame—a helluva lot sooner than some others I could name. (Louis was the first Hall of Fame winner—in 1952—Ed.) He’s a great artist, a truly great artist. As for those younger cats who put him down, let me tell you something: I worked with Louis during a tour in Germany. When they accuse him of Uncle Tomism they just don’t know what they’re talking about. What Louis does—y’know, the flashing teeth and all that—that’s his thing.
SHELLY MANNE: I love him. I love him for what he means to music. I love him for all his vitality and what he’s given of himself. I don’t mean to sound facetious, but I even love Louis for his Swiss Kriss. Would you believe the only thing he remembers me for is the time I sang the blues? I was in Kenton’s band and we were touring New England and he heard me and has never let me forget it. As far as those ridiculous charges of ‘Uncle Tom’ are concerned, that’s the environment; that’s the way he was raised. He is what he is, and if that sounds like Uncle Tomism, I’m sorry man, but that’s show biz.
ART HODES: Jazz is not—never has been—a one-man show. But if I had to vote for one representative for jazz, that one would have to be Louis Armstrong.
GEORGE BRUNIS: The man is great. He’s nice—a hell of a man and a trumpet player. Muggsy Spanier used to carry his records around. Liverlips (Muggsy) said Ironlips (Louis) was the greatest. I’ve known a lot of great ones, but Armstrong’s personality would outshine any trumpet player.
COOTIE WILLIAMS: Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker are the two most important jazzmen that ever lived. Louis Armstrong is the greatest jazz trumpet player I ever heard in my life. No more needs to be said.
HARRY CARNEY: Louis Armstrong has always been an inspiration to me, not only for his musicianship, but for the man and his sense of humor. When you see him, you are always happy. What he projects make you smile. The sound of his voice makes you happy. It’s catching. If you feel bad, it perks you up. Louis Armstrong is a great lift man.
CAT ANDERSON: Louis Armstrong is the greatest horn player that ever played. No one can play or think like him. His playing will last forever. As time goes by, we hope someone will keep the Louis Armstrong tradition alive. I know I’ll try. Live on, Louis, live on!
JOE BENJAMIN: I always liked Louis Armstrong. You liken as a youngster and all of a sudden you’re an adult. And then one day you find yourself in a Decca recording studio with him and find he’s one of the nicest people on this earth.
EARL HINES: Some of the happiest days in my career were with Louis Armstrong, and some of my biggest thrills. I hope there’ll still be an opportunity for us to get together, even if it’s only to record.
THAD JONES: I think he’s probably the greatest living influence in trumpet playing today. Had it not been for Louis, I probably wouldn’t have played trumpet in the first place. It’s not just his playing but the way he plays—that staccato machine-gun attack. He’s one of the first men I heard playing speed—it’s one of the hardest ways of playing and Louis always made it sound easy. Even today he still can do it when it counts. He’s just a beautiful man.
CHARLES McPHERSON: To me, Louis Armstrong is the greatest phraser I’ve ever heard in my life. I really didn’t appreciate Louis Armstrong ‘till I got older because I thought he was old fashioned when I was a kid. You know, when you’re 19 or 20 you have to be modern and everything else seems uncool to you. I thought then he must be square. As I got older and checked him out, I really appreciated the cat. I never heard anyone who is that free in his phrasing and rhythm—even in his singing, the way he bends a note and phrases personally. Louis Armstrong was the first hipster.
SUN RA: To me, Louis Armstrong is one of nature’s music-children. The beauty and simplicity of his sound-style/image-sound improvisation is one of the treasures of sound-pleasure. There is a sense of humor present in the Louis Armstrong approach that is missing in so many other music offerings today. I have always considered every solo I heard by Louis a work of art-masterpiece. I became interested in jazz when I was in elementary school and even then on my list as fundamental was Louis Armstrong. He is part of my jazz-experience adventure. His contribution to jazz is immeasurable and his contribution to music is a world thing not fully evaluated as yet. He is a musician and a person close to humanity and its reality. I do not know him personally but I always hear and see him through his music. Once, while I was traveling on the road with a band someplace in Kentucky or thereabouts, I heard a recording by Louis in a tavern. The name of it was “Sittin’ In the Dark,” I haven’t heard it since, but I still remember the sound-image impression it gave me. He was singing and playing in the same natural way he always projects. He is one of the natural greats of music. I am glad that the world did as much for him as it did. For my part, I wish to say to him: Greetings Intergalactic.
ZUTTY SINGLETON: There are so many things to say about Louis. He is one of swellest guys I’ve ever met in the music business. It’s real kicks just to be around him. I have an autographed picture from him taken in 1929, when we were Uptown at Connie’s Inn. It says: “May we never part. From your boy Louis.” Forty years later, he came up to me and said: “Zutty, we’re going to pick up where we left off!”
MARY LOU WILLIAMS: Through his music, Louis has shown a true spirit of charity towards humanity.
JO JONES: My musical career started on trumpet. This stopped when I heard Louis Armstrong play at the Vendome Theater in Chicago.
OLIVER NELSON: We couldn’t have had what we now know as American music without him. He created a style and he opened up this whole thing. He is just as important as Duke Ellington.
TONY BENNETT: Louis Is America.
KENNY BURRELL: First of all, he should live forever. I’m sure his music will live forever, and I intend to be one of the people to try and make it happen.
BOB WILBER: Louis Armstrong’s music was the reason I became a jazz musician, and after 25 years his music is still my greatest inspiration.
GEORGE WEIN: Because of Louis and Duke, my life has been directed. I wouldn’t be where I am or do what I’m doing if not for those two people. Since I was a kid, they have directed my life. They still remain the greatest. None have come close.
ORNETTE COLEMAN: Louis Armstrong is the best loved performer in the white society and his contribution to Western culture has certainly enhanced the black man’s social position in the struggle for human achievements.
CAL MASSEY: Louis Armstrong is definitely an institution as far as black music goes. He was my first influence. When I was a kid about 7 or 8, I used to wait up when my mother went out to dances that he played at, and I’d ask her questions about how he played. . . . I love Louis Armstrong. I guess you might say for modern times that he has Uncle Tom tactics, but that doesn’t take away from the talent God gave him, and I wish I had one quarter per cent of his talent.
CLIFFORD JARVIS: Louis is a father of jazz, a real contributor. He is a legend now, and he always was. He is a great man and one of the best trumpet players in the world. Trumpeters today should listen more to him. He plays one note and it’s a book. Louis is an inspiration—take a listen to him. He brings back some of the pride that was in jazz. I wish he’d be in a place where I could listen to him more often.
CLIFFORD THORNTON: Louis Armstrong is a living legend. A towering giant of a man and musician whose strength and perseverance have resulted in a lifetime of personal and artistic achievement. A hero, Louis Armstrong represents the earliest generation of the black artist and his attempt to deal with the circumstances of struggle. The heirs of Malcolm, who have won the day, will avenge Louis Armstrong, and many, many more to come. Power to the people.
FREDDIE GUY: Louis Armstrong ruined a lot of good trumpet players.
MARTY GROSZ: Louis Armstrong is Mr. Freedom.
FRANZ JACKSON: Louis Armstrong is one of the greatest musicians of our time—he and Coleman Hawkins. He seemed to make everyone since, even people who never could sing. He made it sound so natural. Nobody ever did anything like that with their voice. He played so much when others were playing so little. It’s hard today for people to realize what an influence he had. He and Hawk: that’s my Hall of Fame.
GENE AMMONS: Louis and my old man were close friends. He used to come by the house. This is how I was introduced to music. Since I’ve known Louis he was one of the pioneers—for myself and for the future. He really got the whole thing started.
LIL ARMSTRONG: To begin with, he’s a genius, and I think he changed the whole trend of jazz. His singing, too, is quite unique—the only one in captivity . . . he was never serious about being a star—he just wants to have fun.
CHRIS CLIFTON: Pops has been my life since I was a boy of 12. Just to catch a glimpse of him, or hear him blow one note is sheer ecstasy for me . . . Pops is the King, forever. Thank God for Louis Armstrong!
BINGIE MADISON: When we were playing with Louis, he was the tops. All the great trumpet players of today use his stuff and add their own phrases.
BERNARD FLOOD: I think he’s the greatest guy that ever picked up a horn. Everybody that ever played anything in jazz has always reverted to Louis Armstrong’s ideas. They will never be another Louis, and I’ve heard them all.
CHARLIE HOLMES: He’s the greatest! I’m not saying that because everyone else says it. I’m saying it because it’s true.
HERB HALL: He’s the greatest jazz stylist of the century. He started it—both trumpet and jazz singing.
EDDIE CONDON: I’ll quote a telegram I sent Louis on his birthday a few years back: “There’s two reasons why this date (July 4) is a memorable one—you and the Declaration of Independence.”
PUNCH MILLER: He’s my boy!
BENNY MORTON: Where would jazz (as we know it now) be if we’d never had a Louis Armstrong?
JAKE HANNA: God came to earth in the form of man, cut his first record in 1923, and has been absolutely perfect ever since.
T-BONE WALKER: I’ve been in the music business for 42 years and Louis’ always been my man!
BILL EVANS: Just recently I got to thinking about Louis, especially about his energy. Guys like Louis—take Duke for example, or Woody—seem to have inexhaustible energy. But Louis in particular, who has worked so hard for so many years, must have more than a marvelous source of energy. He has a great desire and a great need to continue giving his all.
BILLY BUTTERFIELD: He’s been the greatest influence on my musical thinking—it’s really true.
ERNIE ROYAL: All you can say about the man is that he’s fantastic—just the greatest.
ROY ELDRIDGE: He’s just the greatest!
BOBBY HACKETT: Louis Armstrong could only happen once—for ever and ever. I, for one, appreciate the ride.
VIC DICKENSON: I had such a ball making Sugar and I Want a Little Girl with him!
RALPH SUTTON: I love him!
BUD FREEMAN: Louis Armstrong is the father of jazz music because he was the first powerful authentic voice on a horn that I heard. Most of the phrases I hear today come from Louis’ playing.
ZOOT SIMS: He’s my all-time favorite musician.
AL COHN: I think Louis Armstrong, more than anyone else, is the greatest single influence on jazz and jazz musicians.
BUDD JOHNSON: He’s been an inspiration to all musicians, no matter what instrument they played.
MAX KAMINSKY: He’s the greatest musician that ever lived. There will never be anyone to take his place. May years from now, they will finally discover what a great genius he was.
BUCK CLAYTON: He’s been my inspiration since the first time I heard him in Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club in 1932. He was the reason I switched from piano to trumpet. He is and always will be the greatest.
JOE NEWMAN: Louis Armstrong introduced me to the trumpet. To me, he has been the greatest inspiration that anyone could have. He’s the best known figure in jazz and America’s greatest ambassador of good will. Yet, America hasn’t given him enough.
LOU McGARITY: He’s just Mr. Jazz. If it wasn’t for him I don’t think jazz would have ever been born.
BOB HAGGART: My biggest idol of all time and my greatest influence.
RAY NANCE: I grew up on Louis Armstrong, and still have the highest respect for him and his music.
TINY GRIMES: During all these years I’ve played with just about everybody. I wish I could have had the honor to play just one gig with him.
JACK LESBERG: The times I spent working with Louis have been the most enjoyable and educational I ever had in my life.
TYREE GLENN: One of the greatest cats I ever worked with—as a man and as a human being. He is for real and he will tell it for real wherever he is.
ERROLL GARNER: Many happy returns! Keep playing and singing as beautifully as ever for all of us.
LENNIE TRISTANO: Louis Armstrong, along with Earl Hines, was the first great original jazz improviser.
LEE KONITZ: Louis—may I wish you many happy returns, and tell you that Struttin’ with Some Barbecue is a b-i-t-c-h to play. Pops, you sure have some chops! Thank you.
PAUL DESMOND: Louis is such a giant. There won’t ever be anybody like him. People forget how much he invented. Not too many people heard what preceded him. He practically invented jazz.
JAKI BYARD: I remember being introduced to him in a subway by Kenny Clarke before one of Louis’ last big band rehearsals. We went to the rehearsal with him. As I watched him there and talked with him, I felt he was the most natural man—playing, talking, singing—he was so perfectly natural the tears came to my eyes. I was very moved to be near the most natural of all living musicians.
KENNY DORHAM: Louis was my first influence as a trumpet player. He is the institution from which the trumpet came . . . he always had an intrinsically unusual sense of rhythm, and he’s always adding something unique to the lyrics. You can hear Louis in Dizzy—the staccato upper register and Dizzy’s articulation. In some way or other younger musicians were influenced by Pops. Clifford Brown was influenced, too—he sounded like a real old young man, but he had true freshness and vigor of approach and drive. Each generation carries Louis’ influence in its own way.
LUCILLE ARMSTRONG: What can I say that hasn’t been said—by me. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people in the world to be married to him.
GENE KRUPA: Louis Armstrong, as a person and a musician, is certainly one of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure to know.
PHILLY JOE JONES: Louis Armstrong certainly has been a consistent performer. One thing I like is that he always gets a good drummer and has always had a good group. He’s one guy I’d like to play a one-nighter with. You know he really likes to swing!
MILES DAVIS: To me, the great style and interpretation that Louis gave to us musically came from the heart, but his personality was developed by white people wanting black people to entertain by smiling and jumping around. After they do it the call you a Tom, but Louis fooled all of them and became an ambassador of good will.
HARRY GLANTZ: He’s the greatest performer in the profession and the greatest ambassador for the United States.
ROSWELL RUDD: Louis Armstrong is the first man to turn me on to music. He set me off. The joyful feeling he communicates always raised my hair. He really took me out and gave me the shivers. Such great feeling. He’s like the first sculptor in music, a real monolithic sculptor, with his ability as an architect and his ability to communicate feeling and the whole range of emotions . . . He’s a whole man—the embodiment of the African praise singer and band.
ARCHIE SHEPP: On this rare occasion, I take great pleasure in accepting the facilities of your office to wish Mr. Armstrong a happy birthday. I sincerely hope that this forum (DownBeat) would avail itself to more musicians in the future for more expansive deliberation on equally vital issues, i.e., Jackson State, Augusta, Kent, Vietnam. Birthdays are memorable occasions, but we should be equally cognizant of all who have had birthdays and have devoted their lives to jazz. Peace and power.
JIMMY McPARTLAND: Louis Armstrong—that’s it! What more can you say?
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