Review: Louis Armstrong and jelly Roll Morton Essay

Submitted By greej9722
Words: 1459
Pages: 6

Ken Burns Music Review

For my first music review I chose to listen to a CD by Ken Burns Jazz. On this CD there are many recordings from different artists and different styles of jazz. Each song has it’s own personality just like a person would, some are slow while others are fast, some have vocals while others are strictly instrumental. Some have solos while others are a great mixture of instruments. However, one thing they all do have in common is that they are a type of jazz music. A few of the artists on this CD include Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington. Bessie Smith was the most popular female blues singer in the 1920’s, one of her first recordings was Down-Hearted Blues. Bessie was in a band with Louis Armstrong around the late 1920’s called Fletcher Henderson’s band. Louis Armstrong had a voice that was instantly recognizable because of the gravelly texture and he was known to shift the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. Jelly Roll Morton also known as Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe started his career in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composter. Morton is most memorable for jazz’s first arranger, proving a gene rooted in improvisation could retain its essential spirit and characteristics when noted. Duke Ellington having written over 1,000 compositions was known as an American composer, pianist, and big-band leader. Ellington’s music had a variety of genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular and classical. Bessie Smith recorded a song called Back Water Blues in February 17, 1927, that was known for her clear diction and her sensitivity to James P. Johnson’s incredible piano accompaniment. This song was inspired from her sympathy with flood victims she encountered near Cincinnati months earlier. Back Water Blues is a twelve bar blues song with an AAB form. During this song Smith wanders around the pitch, most of it appears improvised and she emphasizes the blue notes and has a solid gritty sound to her voice. The beginning of this song started out with Johnson playing piano followed by Smiths high-pitched singing with a slow paced rhythm. I really like Smith as an artist; she is an inspiring individual that many young artists should look up to. She has an incredible, strong voice and by that you can tell she is strong willed. One of my favorite things about her singing is her pitch variation and how it can fluctuate at any time during her songs. Many artists have a hard time reaching such a variation of notes. Louis Armstrong’ s contribution to Ken Burns CD includes the songs, Stardust, Heebie Jeebies Potato Head Blues and West End Blues. Stardust was recorded in Chicago on November 4, 1931 with Armstrong playing the trumpet along with the vocals, Zilner Randolph playing the trumpet, Preston Jackson playing the trombone, Lester Boone and George James playing alto saxophone, Charlie Alexander playing piano, Mike McKendrick playing banjo and guitar, John Lindsay playing bass and Tubby Hall playing the drums. The first minute and twenty seconds was strictly instrumental followed by Armstrong’s raspy deep voice. Through this song Armstrong taught many people the term of swing in jazz, both vocally and instrumentally. Heebie Jeebies was recorded on February 26, 1926 with Armstrong playing the cornet and singing, Kid Ory playing trombone, Johnny Dodd’s playing clarinet, Lil Armstrong playing piano and Johnny St. Cyr playing banjo. This song is known for Armstrong’s scat singing that was created by much improvision. In this song Armstrong has a way of sailing from one chorus to the next in a nature smooth way. Potato Head Blues was recorded on May 10, 1927 with Armstrong on the trumpet, John Thomas playing the trombone, Johnny Dodd’s playing the clarinet, Lil Armstrong playing the piano, Johnny St. Cyr playing the banjo, Pete Briggs playing the tuba and Baby Dodd’s playing