What a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong bezoekt Amsterdam *29 oktober 1955

A CONTROVERSIAL JAZZ MAN

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World ♪

Louis Armstrong (August 4th, 1901-July 6th, 1971) is one of the most important Jazz singer and trumpeter. He was Afro-American (grandson of slaves), but he was one of the first to become truly famous, despite the color of his skin. He was able to shift the focus of the music from the collective improvisation to solo performance.

He had rarely promoted his political ideas, but he criticized the president Eisenhower for his segregation policy, during the Little Rock Crisis.

He was born in New Orleans, which was a city of racial discrimination, but where ragtime (the beginning of Jazz) was appreciated. He improved his cornet playing skills in the band of the city in his early life.

In the ‘20s, during the period of maximum growth of jazz music culture, his musicianship matured so that he was one of the first Jazz man involved in trumpet solo.

After many experiences in New Orleans and Chicago, he went to Harlem, playing in the Connie’s Inn, rival of the famous Cotton Club, where he reached great success.

Because of the “Great Depression” in the early ‘30s many musicians stopped to sing, but Louis moved to Los Angeles (to the new Cotton Club), then returned to New Orleans and afterwards started a tour in Europe.

He settled permanently in Queens, NY, in 1943 where he first created the All Stars (a band of six), then recorded many important and famous songs, and won the most important prize.

Until few years before his death he continued to perform.

He is a controversial figure, he was so famous and influential, but he never used his prominence with white Americans for the Civil Rights Movement, which alienated him from members of the black community.

He was largely accepted into American society, and he had the access to many things exclusive even for whites, and this makes the members of the Afro-American community call him Uncle Tom (the phrase “Uncle Tom” has also become an epithet for a person who is slavish and excessively subservient to perceived authority figures, particularly a black or brown person who behaves in a subservient manner to white people […]).

Some musicians criticized him for not taking part strong enough to the American Civil Rights Movement, but when he spoke against Eisenhower it made national news, and he cancelled a tour in the USSR as a protest. («The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell»).

Despite this political neutrality, he wrote many songs asking for peace and inclusion, meanwhile the political reality was of racial division and segregation. One above all is What a wonderful world which conveys hope and optimism for the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to.

Many covers had been made of this song, but the original one gave Armstrong many recognitions, and climbed the charts of many countries.

Riccardo Sala (VD)

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ How do you do?
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah

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