Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong (1900-71), born in poverty, brought up in an orphanage, dominated one of the art forms of the 20th century: jazz.
He earned the awestruck admiration of a global audience, crossing the boundaries of geography, politics and race. His inimitable voice, the poetry of his trumpet and his mastery of improvisation made him ‘Mr Jazz’. David Bradbury’s biography brings New Orleans, the ‘Crescent City on the Mississippi’, which shaped ‘Little Louis’, to life. The story winds its way through Chicago, the gangster town of the Prohibition era where he became a member of the King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in 1922, to the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York; and to 1946, when he starred in his first movie.
Bradbury’s book is both alive and musically authoritative.
A jazz fan since his schooldays, David Bradbury was able to talk to many musicians while he was based in New York as a British correspondent reporting on America. Now a freelance writer, he lives with his wife in North London.
‘Bradbury retells the familiar story of the master-builder of jazz in a cool, elegant format . . . with hitherto unpublished reminiscences from Armstrong’s closest associates. The book’s production aptly blends authentic folklore, evocative photographs and eye-witness accounts from each of Armstrong’s seven decades. Every third or fourth page is embellished with succinct verbal sketches of virtually everything and everyone that Armstrong got involved with . . .’ -
Michael Horowitz, The Sunday Times
‘The best biography of Armstrong.’ - Steven Poole, The Guardian
‘it is a fine and well-researched introduction’ - George Melly, Daily Mail