Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Learn more Fitbit
Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gotta respect this hard-working genius, 1 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (Hardcover)
My starting point for POPS was Hot Fives and Sevens, which sustained me recently during my workouts at the gym. (I'm the skinny mature guy on the recumbent bike.) My reaction to these CDs was: Lots of this is really good. But what exactly am I listening for? Well, POPS turned out to be an outstanding guide for my listening experience, since it contains remarks from many of Armstrong's contemporaries, as well as terrific analysis from Terry Teachout, explaining why his music is exceptional. For example:

o Jazz historian Gunther Schuller: "...a dazzling lesson in how to mix primary thematic material with purely ornamental passages without ever losing the sense of the overall melody."

o Pianist Teddy Wilson: "It was a privilege to hear that man play every night. He was such a master at melodic improvisation, and he never hit a note that didn't have a great deal of meaning. Every note was pure music."

o Teachout: "...dispense almost completely with Arlen's melody, substituting instead a series of rhythmically free phrases that lead upward to a high B-Flat. Four times he falls off from that shining note--and then comes the fifth fall, at the bottom of which he changes course and swoops gracefully upward to a full-throated high D whose vibrancy..."

Armstrong had a very long career, which is the primary subject of POPS. In following this subject, Teachout shows the phenomenally talented young Armstrong emerging from a New Orleans style of jazz, where teamwork dominated, and developing a form of jazz (now called classic) where the solo is king. Thereafter, Armstrong's career had its ups and downs, with Armstrong gradually becoming a top-tier celebrity in mainstream American culture while he continued to perform his music, often with mediocre sidemen.

Anyone out there ever find themselves in that unhappy situation? That is, you have to maintain standards while your colleagues can't or don't care? Well, Armstrong had the answer. "I work with two bands, the one on the stage and the one in my head. If they sound good on stage, O.K., I'll play with them. If not, I just turn up the volume of the band in my head."

In following Armstrong's career, Teachout also provides many interesting insights about turning points in jazz history. Here, for example, is Armstrong's opinion of bebop. Bop "...doesn't' come from the heart the way real music should... You won't find many of them cats who can blow a straight lead. They never learned right. It's all just flash." And "...you get all them weird chords, which don't mean nothing, and first people get curious about it just because it's new, but soon they tired of it because it's really no good and you got no melody to remember..."

Meanwhile, here's Gil Evans on Miles Davis, who represents another turning point: "Miles changed the tone of the trumpet for the first time after Louis. Everybody up to him had come through Louis Armstrong." Adds Teachout: "Davis's style was a pared-down, more overtly lyrical version of bop whose simplicity and directness appealed to listeners ill at ease with Charlie Parker's electric frenzy, ...and his fragile, shiveringly poignant abstractions... spoke to the young people of the fifties the way that Armstrong's "Star Dust"... had spoken to their parents."

Jazz cognoscente might find POPS basic. But for the rest of us... recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Big Apple

Top Reviewer Ranking: 186,038