It was and, for Armstrong, a move up.
In "Louis Armstrong's New Orleans," Thomas Brothers portrays him as a grandson of slaves who brought "a culture based on blues, on communal singing in church and on the string-band tradition of ragging tunes" into a band led by "Creoles of color. Armstrong's mother was 15 when he was born.
As an year-old, he was all but fatherless when a judge sent him to the Colored Waif's Home for Boys after he was arrested for firing a gun. There he got his first horn, and musical discipline. Back on his own in his teens, he found a surrogate father in Joe Oliver, a gifted cornetist and the emerging king of New Orleans jazz.
Tensions between caste and color in New Orleans have drawn scrutiny in some jazz histories. Brothers has done the most thorough job yet of exploring the social distance between Armstrong's early years in Back of Town - the central city ghetto, once a swamp back of the plantation houses - and the world of the downtown Creoles, below Canal Street. Many Creoles still spoke French, and most were classically trained.
Lorenzo Tio Jr. Oliver, who lived uptown, played by ear, improvising on the melody. Creoles considered this playing raggedy, but the poor folk from uptown and Back of Town who filled dance halls signaled where the culture, and the music, were heading. The harmonies of choirs in the small Sanctified churches melded with the blues and syncopated rags in a musical stylization quite different from society orchestral fare. There is an enduring stereotype of the Storyville red-light district as the incubator of early jazz. The city and the musician are both extraordinary, their relationship unique, and their impact on American culture incalculable.
Read more Read less. Review Superb history and a rocking good read.
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Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. June 7, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Thomas Brothers has pulled off the near-impossible for a youngish man living in the 21st century. He has managed to dissect and explain most of the complex social and musical interactions in New Orleans as they existed in the years when Louis Armstrong was growing up, coming of age, and learning his way around the horn and the music business. He adroitly explains how the social and cultural climate of New Orleans was exactly right for not only the formation of the music we call jazz, but also how it trickled down from the uptown African-Americans to the downtown Creoles.
I only give the book four stars, however, for one reason. Laine was leading jazz bands from the mids on, and his graduates included virtually all the better-known white jazz musicians such as Nick La Rocca, Larry Shields, Eddie Edwards and Alcide "Yellow" Nunez. While it is true that the "Original" Dixieland Jazz Band claimed credit for music that was not their own, the same was true of "blues composer" W.
Louis Armstrong's New Orleans
So much for honor among thieves. Despite this oversight, the book is excellent in every respect. Armstrong's development, musically, intellectually and socially, is explained in painstaking detail.
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One of my few complaints is that Mr. Brothers overuses the word "hegemony" as much as Gene Santoro overuses th word "zeitgeist. Highly recommended.
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