Several factors influenced Luis Armstrong’s music career, but the key among them was his family background. Armstrong had a difficult childhood after his father abandoned the family and his mother turned into a prostitute. This forced him to drop out of school and live with his grandmother, where he began working for a local Jewish family as a waste collector in exchange for meals. The family realized that he had a passion for music and often encouraged him to sing. When he was 12 years old, he fired his stepfather’s pistol during the 1913 New Year’s celebration and got arrested (Lewis, 2016). He spent the next 18 months serving in Colored Waif’s Home’s juvenile facility. It was at this facility center that Armstrong learned how to play the bugle and later the cornet.
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The improvisations introduced by Armstrong into jazz altered its landscape permanently. Specifically, he made the improvising soloist the epicenter of the performance. Right from the time he became a bandleader, Armstrong developed ensembles that illustrated his spectacular talent in playing the trumpet. His influence did not stop at the jazz genre of music; he introduced energetic and swinging rhythmic movements while performing. This was copied by soloists from all other genres in the popular American music scenes. Armstrong was constantly on the lookout for unorthodox inspirational sources (Yanow, 2020).
These ensured that jazz remained musically unique in the world of other popular types of music. Armstrong’s signature improvisations of the trumpet had a great influence on other jazz musicians who worked under him. For instance, John Birks Gillespie, one of the most influential modern jazz artists, is on record as having stated that without Louis Armstrong, he would not be who he is.
Lewis, S. (2016). Louis Armstrong: The first great jazz soloist. Smithsonian Music. Web.
Yanow, S. (2020). How Louis Armstrong revolutionized American music. Biography. Web.