Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The legendary jazz trumpeter's final decades were not a collapse into lame minstrelsy, as critics complain, but a musical efflorescence, according to this exuberant biography. Journalist Riccardi surveys Armstrong's postwar career, during which he churned out recorded covers of forgettable pop tunes, got labeled an Uncle Tom for his grinning, clowning, eye-rolling antics before white audiences, and infuriated jazz purists by making signature tunes out of bland ballads like "Hello, Dolly" and "What a Wonderful World." Riccardi's Satchmo is certainly an eccentric coot, what with his epic marijuana and laxative habits. (He recommended the latter as a cure-all to President Eisenhower and Grace Kelly.) But he's also a consummate entertainer who knew what audiences wanted, took seriously his role as cultural ambassador, and vocally challenged racist conventions. Indeed, Riccardi argues, Armstrong's alleged musical decline actually produced his greatest jazz albums—the author's exegeses of these, based on session tapes, make for a luminous exploration of Armstrong's musicianship—and, yes, some sublime pop standards as well. Riccardi's narrative sometimes bogs down in the minutiae of touring, recording, and overlong reminiscences. But his lively prose and warm engagement with the music make this a satisfying appreciation of Armstrong's legacy. Photos. (June)
“The story of Louis Armstrong’s later years is the great untold tale of postwar jazz. Now Ricky Riccardi has told it to perfection. What a Wonderful World is a unique and indispensable landmark in Armstrong scholarship, a weathervane that will point the way to all future writings on his life and work.”
—Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong
“This is not only a tale of interest to jazz fans or academics but the climactic portion of the inspiring life story of a man who, against all odds, rose from extreme poverty and discrimination to become, indisputably, one of the stellar figures of the twentieth century . . . We need this book.”
—Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University
I love Pops and this book is about the latter days of his days on the planet ! Great insight to his genius . What a man!Published 26 days ago by bmachine
I am a lifelong fan of Louis Armstrong and his work. There has never been a more significant figure in Jazz, or all of American music. Read morePublished on August 16, 2013 by Historikitty
Am thoroughly enjoying this book. Like the focus on Louis' later years, bc that's the music I'm most familiar with.Published on January 18, 2013 by Danielita
This is a very thorough, yet immensely readable, bio of the last third of Pops' life. Mr. Riccardi shows how Pops had an ever-changing set list and various artistic sub-periods... Read morePublished on January 3, 2013 by Phil Lynch
This is simply a wonderful book. Extremely informative, well written, and painstakingly well-researched. A labor of love by a passionate jazz historian and fan, but also objective. Read morePublished on February 17, 2012 by Chris Adams
A truly wonderful book. I read dozens of books about Louis, including his own. But Ricky Riccardi's really goes deeply into some obscure facets of his life and personality which no... Read morePublished on February 15, 2012 by martin emiliano arias
The basic premise of this book is that the post-world War II Armstrong was just as innovative and as powerful a musical personality as he was with his Hot-5 and Hot-7 groups in the... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by Mike B
What a Wonderful World is a fun, fat paced, informative, page turner! I read it just after visiting the Louis Armstrong House and Archive in Corona, Queens, New York City, where... Read morePublished on December 30, 2011 by Ken Brandt