There are certain singers and players that had great influence on my preferences for music. None had a greater impact, with the exception of Sinatra, than Louis "Sachmo" Armstrong.
Since the purpose of this post is to allow you to listen to a master, I do not want to try to reinvent the wheel while giving you a brief history of his life and work. What follows is the short bio available at answers.com.
* Born: 4 August 1901
* Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
* Died: 6 July 1971 (heart attack)
* Best Known As: The charismatic jazz trumpeter who recorded "Hello Dolly"
Louis Armstrong was the most famous jazz trumpeter of the 20th century. Like Jelly Roll Morton, Armstrong began playing in New Orleans clubs and saloons in his early teens. By the 1920s Armstrong was touring the country and leading his own band, the Hot Five (later the Hot Seven). He continued to tour and record throughout his life and was particularly famous for his innovative, loose-limbed improvisations; some call him the first great jazz improvisor. His gravelly voice and sunny persona were a hit with the non-jazz public, and later in his career he became a sort of cheerful ambassador of jazz, even appearing as himself (more or less) in movies like High Society (1956, with his good friend Bing Crosby and starlet Grace Kelly) and Hello, Dolly! (1969, with Barbra Streisand). The theme song from the latter film became his most widely-known recording.
Armstrong's nickname Satchmo was an abbreviation of "satchelmouth," a joke on the size of his mouth... He was also nicknamed Gatemouth, Dippermouth, Dip, and simply Pops... Armstrong was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an "early influence" in 1990... In 2001 the city of New Orleans renamed its airport as Louis Armstrong International Airport... Armstrong is credited with influencing trumpeters as diverse as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis.
That short bio just skims the surface of the life of the one who became known as The Ambassador of Jazz. But his popularity with the general public came from his singing of American Standards and other popular songs on early television and appearing many, many times on all of the popular variety shows of that era. And he had many motion picture credits, often small parts in romantic comedies from the 40s up almost the time of his death in 1971.
A solid, more detailed biography is available in Wikipedia:
But you can read that later. Now you need to hear some great music by this master or jazz, standards and pop.
Here is, first, a Playlist of 20 of Lewis' greatest recordings that you can just listen to. You can also open another tab on your browser and go about your business on the internet. You will see how versatile Satchmo was: playing jazz, pop and ballads on the trumpet, and occasionally on the cornet; singing in that inimitatable gravelly voice of his; and adapting to the music of the day without giving up one ounce of his personal touch on the music as only he could play and sing it.
I have also provided an old grainy video clip, for those of you who are too young to have a good mind's eye of what Lewis looked like when he performed: his signature, ever present white handkerchief, his eyes which went from sleepy to wide open astonishment as he sang, and the glory of music that shone from him every time he stepped on a stage, whether at a bar on Bourbon Street or on the Ed Sullivan Show.
This song that became one of his sigaiture songs late in his career because it captured the hearts of the American people.