Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blues on a Saturday: Louis Armstrong "West End Blues"

It has beena little over 110 years since the birth of Louis Armstrong, perhaps the greatest musician and artist of the 20th century.  Shiraz Socialist has a great essay on appreciating and understanding Armstrong. Here's a great video which analyzes the great "West End Blues" from 1928.




The blog  "Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong" has a great history of the West End Blues. 

Louis Armstrong’s 1928 performance of the tune has probably been the subject of more words and analysis than any other in the history of jazz. Gunther Schuller devoted page after page to it in 1967’s Early Jazz, writing, “The clarion call of “West End Blues’ served notice that jazz had the potential capacity to compete with the highest order of previously known musical expression.” Gary Giddins wrote that this tune “came to symbolize more than any other the ascendancy of a classic American music.” John Chilton called the introduction “a great moment in 20th century music.” Ken Burns devoted an entire segment to it and if you’d like to hear Artie Shaw, Wynton Marsalis and Gary Giddins expound on it, as well as hearing “West End Blues”
And, to close things out, here is a segment of Ken Burns' Jazz devoted to West End Blues

Louis Armstrong’s 1928 performance of the tune has probably been the subject of more words and analysis than any other in the history of jazz. Gunther Schuller devoted page after page to it in 1967’s Early Jazz, writing, “The clarion call of “West End Blues’ served notice that jazz had the potential capacity to compete with the highest order of previously known musical expression.” Gary Giddins wrote that this tune “came to symbolize more than any other the ascendancy of a classic American music.” John Chilton called the introduction “a great moment in 20th century music.” Ken Burns devoted an entire segment to it and if you’d like to hear Artie Shaw, Wynton Marsalis and Gary Giddins expound on it, as well as hearing “West End Blues”

Ken Burn's Jazz devoted a segment to "West End Blues" which is apparently no longer available on YouTube, but it is well worth searching on the Burn's series.

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