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Louis Armstrong blows, scats, and sings for us all.
on 13 January 1998
Louis Armstrong, An Extravant Life is superb because it recreates the man and his times--and how the man changed his time. Laurence Bergreen details the poverty of Storyville, New Orleans: its honky tonks and violence, and the surprising sustenance a resilent child found there. We see how Louis Armstrong found his family among the white, Jewish Karnovskys, and in the stern Waif's Home where he became a musician.
Bergreen shows us the shameful racism of the South (and North), and how Louis' exuberant personality and music helped transcend it. The Armstrong we come to know is humble, humorous, brimming with the energy of jazz itself. We learn how Armstrong invented solos and scat singing, and how his jazz went beyond even music. That is, he mesmerized America with a personality that brought rich and poor, black and white, hip and square together.
Armstrong's blowing and singing, his restless amiable spirit, is a bracing ode to being alive. Bergreen's meticulous empathy lets us share the extravagance.