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Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong Paperback – Bargain Price, October 7, 2010
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Louis Armstrong was the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century and a giant of modern American culture. He knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts, wrote the finest of all jazz autobiographies--without a collaborator--and created collages that have been compared to the art of Romare Bearden. The ranks of his admirers included Johnny Cash, Jackson Pollock and Orson Welles. Offstage he was witty, introspective and unexpectedly complex, a beloved colleague with an explosive temper whose larger-than-life personality was tougher and more sharp-edged than his worshipping fans ever knew. Wall Street Journal arts columnist Terry Teachout has drawn on a cache of important new sources unavailable to previous Armstrong biographers, including hundreds of private recordings of backstage and after-hours conversations that Armstrong made throughout the second half of his life, to craft a sweeping new narrative biography of this towering figure that shares full, accurate versions of such storied events as Armstrong's decision to break up his big band and his quarrel with President Eisenhower for the first time. Certain to be the definitive word on Armstrong for our generation, Pops paints a gripping portrait of the man, his world and his music that will stand alongside Gary Giddins' Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Peter Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley as a classic biography of a major American musician.
Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Terry Teachout, Author of Pops: A Life of Louis ArmstrongDear Amazon Readers: Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, my new book, is the story of a great artist who was also a good man. A genius who was born in the gutter--and became a celebrity known in every corner of the world. A beloved entertainer who was more complex--and much tougher--than his fans ever imagined. It's not the first Armstrong biography, but it's the first one to tell Satchmo's story accurately. I based it in part on hundreds of private, after-hours recordings made by Armstrong himself, candid tapes in which he tells the amazing tale of his ascent to stardom in blunt, plainspoken language. I'm the first biographer to have had access to those tapes. Read Pops and you'll learn the facts about his 1930 marijuana arrest, his life-threatening run-in with the gangsters of Chicago, his triumphant Broadway and Hollywood debuts, his complicated love life, and much, much more. You'll also come away understanding exactly what it was that made him the most influential jazz musician of the twentieth century, an entertainer so irresistibly magnetic that he knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts four decades after he cut his first record. If you've ever thrilled to the sounds of "West End Blues," "Mack the Knife," "Hello, Dolly!" or "What a Wonderful World," this is the book for you and yours. Give Pops a read and find out all about the man from New Orleans who changed the face of American music. Sincerely yours, Terry Teachout
(Photo © Ken Howard)
Amazon Exclusive: Terry Teachout's Top 10 Louis Armstrong RecordingsIn Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, I tell the story of a beloved giant of jazz whose greathearted, larger-than-life personality shone through every record he made. Here are ten of my special favorites: 1. "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" (1933). Of all Louis Armstrong's records, this is the one I love best. Listen to how he floats atop the beat in the last chorus--he sounds just like a tenor going for a high C. 2. "West End Blues" (1928). The most celebrated of all Armstrong recordings and the quintessence of swing." 3. "Hotter Than That" (1927). “I just played the way I sang," Pops said. His wordless vocal on this Hot Seven track proves it. 4. "Star Dust" (1931). Further proof: listen to how he rewrites the lyrics to this familiar Hoagy Carmichael ballad. 5. "Darling Nelly Gray" (1937). Satchmo transforms an old slave song, backed up by the suavely swinging Mills Brothers. 6. "Jeepers Creepers" (1939). A charming souvenir of Armstrong's film career--he introduced this Johnny Mercer song in "Going Places." 7. "Struttin' with Some Barbecue" (1938). A boiling-hot big-band remake of a classic 1927 Hot Five side in which the trumpeter improves on perfection. 8. "You Rascal, You" (1950). Louis meets Louis in this raucous romp through an Armstrong standard, accompanied to high-spirited effect by Louis Jordan's Tympany Five. 9. "New Orleans Function" (1950). An old-time New Orleans jazz funeral recreated by the All Stars, with Earl Hines on piano and Jack Teagarden on trombone. 10. "Sleepy Time Down South" (1941). Armstrong's theme song, an irreplaceable example of his rich and resplendent lyricism.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As soon as popular critics and serious scholars started writing about that uniquely American pop music, jazz, they wrote about Armstrong. They couldn't avoid it because Armstrong, more than any other individual, set the standards and many of the conventions for jazz, in his playing and his singing. (Where would Bing Crosby have been without Louis to imitate?) He wasn't the first great jazz soloist: Sidney Bechet holds that honor by a few years. And Armstrong's seminal group, the Hot Five (later Hot Seven), played outside the recording studio just one time. It was never a working group, never a combo formed to play in the clubs and dance halls where jazz was being forged in the twenties and thirties.
Trying to imagine jazz without Armstrong is like trying to imagine modern art without Picasso or the essay form without Montaigne. His contemporaries knew it and admitted it. Even those who were on the outs with him -Earl Hines, Coleman Hawkins--knew that Louis was The Man. Red Allen, the trumpeter with (to my mind) the most beautiful sound in jazz, wanted nothing more than to sound like Louis. Jack Teagarden tried to play him on the trombone (and succeeded).Read more ›
In this he is aided by Armstrong, who left behind two autobiographies and numerous audio recordings. From them we learn a man unashamed of his impoverished beginnings in the "black Storyville" neighborhood of New Orleans. The musical scene of the town's brothels and clubs provided the young Armstrong with both his early musical education and his first employment. Teachout goes on to describe his journey during the 1920s from promising young cornet player into the headlining talent he became by the end of the decade. Teachout rightly gives this period, one that saw some of his most innovative music, considerable attention, but he challenges critics such as Gunther Schuller who dismiss Armstrong's work with the big bands of the 1930s and 1940s. These decades dominate the biography, taking up eight of the book's twelve chapters. The final chapters chronicle the established entertainer who faced the twin challenges of aging and the disdainful attitude of the younger generation of musicians who followed in his giant footsteps.
In examining Armstrong's life, Teachout brings to bear his skills as detective and storyteller. He succeeds in depicting a very human yet enormously gifted performer, a talented musician who was also a superb entertainer.Read more ›
A lot, it turns out. My personal gaps were both many and multi-dimensional.
My perception of how Louis (never "Louie") Armstrong and his music were affected by his environment --- his family, contemporaries and mentors --- as well as the influence he had on others and their music was woefully incomplete and in some instances downright inaccurate.
In POPS, author Terry Teachout uses numerous sources simultaneously to paint a picture of what was happening at several points in Armstrong's career --- including adding his subject's own voice via his legacy of letters and personal writings to complete the canvas. He goes into great detail describing Armstrong's relationship with his early mentors and how they shaped both his style and his outward personality. Despite talent and fame that had surpassed those of his mentors, Armstrong always remained deferential; even while occasionally playing second fiddle as a guest in his former master's bands, he never showed them up by outplaying or upstaging them. His respect for the craft and those who had introduced him to it was immense.
In describing Armstrong's early recording sessions, Teachout details the technology available at the time and the limitations it imposed on the instrumentation for the recordings. He then portrays how each member of the recording ensemble related to Armstrong both personally and musically.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read every Armstrong biography and autobiography and this is the best.Sympathetic, but not fawning. Reveals the many dimensions of the man and musician. Read morePublished 19 days ago by R. A. Cramblitt
I just started reading it, but I can already tell it's very well researched and has a lot of stuff you won't get anywhere else! Read morePublished 2 months ago by DanaNYC
The author did a phenomenal job of researching the life story of this great American artist. An excellent read !Published 3 months ago by writerjb
Aside from phonograph records, my own and on radio (no television in those days) and brief appearances in film and on such as the Bing Crosby radio show, I had the good fortune to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by drkhimxz
Comprehensive history. Well written story. I felt I got to know him as a man and a performer.Published 14 months ago by Victoria Rose
I highly recommend this book as a biography of an American Icon and a great man! Even non musicians should read this book! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Lawrence E. Knier
Great book ... deserves the high rating others have provided. You get the feeling to start to understand the man behind the stage presence and music genius. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Paul B.