"Coffee & Beignets" Essay

1658 words - 7 pages

New Orleans, Louisiana, a city most known for its tasty seafood, its French cuisine, and its largest celebration of Mardi Gras in the nation, also has a long history of being innovative when it comes to the subject of music. This can be proven when looking at the creation of multiple musical genres including jazz. Most notably, Dixieland Jazz or New Orleans style jazz took root in the city throughout the early 20th century. Throughout this period, many artists began to implement this new style of music that derived ultimately from the roots of jazz. In this, New Orleans became an incubator for an expansive and igniting fuse in the music industry and set the stage for one of the greatest African American jazz musicians: Louis Armstrong. Because of Armstrong’s innovative improvisation, music, and singing, he became the leading trumpet player and one of the most influential artists in jazz history.
Louis Armstrong, better known as Sactchmo which is short for “Satchel mouth”, was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The product of a household servant and textile worker, Armstrong consequently grew up poor in a neighborhood known as “The Battlefield.” Because of his family’s lack of financial resources, Armstrong’s mother, Mayann, was forced to participate in illegal acts such as prostituting in order to provide for him and his sister. Armstrong, in an attempt to keep his mother off the street, began to work as a paperboy. Through this work, Louis began to explore different dance halls and clubs that he would encounter on his delivery route (Pops 39). As a result, Armstrong’s musical experiences occurred very early in his life. As stated in Armstrong’s memoir, Satchmo , Armstrong’s first musical experience was when he heard Buddy Bolden play the cornet at the “Funky Butt”—one of the clubs he encountered on his paper route.
One could argue that the beginning of Armstrong’s formal musical education started when he attended the Fisk School for Boys. However, in Armstrong’s memoir he attributes his formal beginning of musical education to an event in which he was being arrested with a pistol during the holiday season. Armstrong was arrested for possession with this pistol and was sent to boot camp shortly after. Here at the boot camp, Waifs’ Home, Armstrong met his first and only music teacher, Mr. Pete Davis. Armstrong attributed his entire musical development to Mr. Pete Davis. While at Waifs’ Home, Mr. Pete gave Armstrong the chance to join the brass band where he got to play multiple instruments including the bugle, the trumpet, and the cornet where Armstrong eventually became the band’s lead brass player. Thus, through these particular experiences Armstrong ultimately found his calling, the trumpet.
Armstrong’s musical career and consequently his foray into writing and composing music began in his adolescent years. Around age thirteen, Armstrong was still held at Waifs’ Home, however he was presented with opportunities to expand his...

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