Louis Armstrong, In His Own Words: Selected Writings

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Louis Armstrong, In His Own Words: Selected Writings [Paperback]

Louis Armstrong , Thomas Brothers
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

These writings from jazz great Louis Armstrong swing with the same warmth, rhythms, and inventive phrasing that made his music so popular. Armstrong toured with a typewriter and used it often for journals, writing letters to friends or strangers, and supplying reporters with material about his life. Eavesdropping backstage on Armstrong and his bandmates would make worthwhile reading for any jazz fan or historian, regardless of Armstrong's ability as a writer. But Armstrong writes well, in a style completely his own. Editor Brothers provides context and insight through short introductions to each piece. But he has a deep respect for Armstrong and has interfered as little as possible with his idiosyncratic writing. Armstrong developed a unique usage of quotation marks, commas, dashes, and underscoring that gives the writing its rhythm. In a letter to his manager, Joe Glaser, he writes ``IJust, Love, Your, Checks, in, My POCKETSOH They look so pretty, until, I hate like hell to cash them.'' Armstrong uses jazz argot, much of it now assimilated into the language, translating when he thinks it necessary: ``Here's how we were busted (arrested to you) . . .'' Of some sharp sight-reading musicians he writes, They might read a Fly Speck, if it get in the way.'' The collection covers Armstrong's entire life, from his poor beginnings in New Orleans to his heyday in Chicago to his last years in Corona, New York. But the most compelling reading comes from Armstrong on his passions for music, gage (marijuana), and laxatives. He even signed a telegram to President Eisenhower (offering to take ``those little negro children personally into Central High School'') ``Am Swiss Krissly Yours . . .'' Swiss Kriss was the herbal laxative to which Armstrong credited his health. This collection transcends jazz and conventional grammar, revealing the humor and spirit of a legendary entertainer. (29 halftones) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A fascinating collection of the unpublished writings of jazz trailblazer Armstrong, perhaps the most prolific writer among the jazz greats.... These revealing letters and writings give readers a fascinating glimpse into Armstrong's early musical influences, rise to fame, life on the road, role in the Civil Rights movement, and final years. Carefully preserving Armstrong's idiosyncratic style and adding previously unpublished photos, Brothers illuminates the character and times of a jazz icon."--Library Journal

"Louis Armstrong was a wonderful writer, vivid and candid, but until now his most personal reflections were known only to researchers. Thomas Brothers has superbly collected them in an entertaining volume that will prove indispensable to anyone who wants to understand the genius who transformed American music."--Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz

"This book is like a long visit to Louis Armstrong's house in Queens.... Delightful and revealing.... By itself, this book explains why Louis Armstrong was by far the greatest and warment communicator jazz shall ever know."--George Avakian, jazz record producer

"Scholarly but approachable and engrossing, the book adds vitally to our knowledge of one of the greatest twentieth-century Americans."--Booklist

Louis Armstrong, In His Own Words is essential reading on the life of this legendary figure and the early jazz scene."--Down Beat

About the Author

Thomas Brothers is an Associate Professor of Music at Duke University and the author of Chromatic Beauty in the Late Medieval Chanson. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
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