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The Great Louis Armstrong

It was June 28, 1928, when Louis Armstrong then only 26 years old was getting ready to record a song that would change music history. The song was called “West End Blues” and it had been first recorded by Joe “King” Oliver. Oliver was the one who had taught Armstrong how to play by ear and had brought him to the then capital of jazz Chicago, Illinois in 1922. In 1925 Armstrong left Oliver’s band and headed for New York City. He returned to Chicago to record “West End Blues’ and it was at this time that his unique style and virtuosic technique came shining through and made him an international sensation.

The song was one of the earliest recordings which featured Armstrong’s scat singing. It also included a 15-second trumpet intro and an eight-bar solo at the end by Armstrong which made this an amazing blend of rhythm and melody. In 1928 there was no possibility for playback in a recording studio therefore when Armstrong and his Hot Five finished their recording of “West End Blues” they had no idea about what it sounded like. When they finally heard it they were as thrilled by it as everyone else was. It clearly was the beginning of jazz becoming an art form.


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