A Louis Armstrong I didn’t know
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    Louis Armstrong & black sheet music

    I’m always on the lookout for black music memorabilia, especially sheet music. I don’t buy the sheets with stereotypical images. I find them degrading and don’t want them.

    Time and again, I do come across some early ones that are very complimentary of black people, the ones that show us as we are, not as caricatures for someone else’s enjoyment.

    I have several sheet music covers that I’ve framed, and they work well as art. Some have torn edges but the graphics are in good shape.

    At a recent auction, I was outbidded on a collection of sheet music with covers of black people. That happens, and you wait for the next auction.

    In the meantime, I’ll embrace the photo of Louis Armstrong that I got at an auction. The black and white 20 x 16 photo shows Armstrong and his band from the late 1920s.


    The photo is signed: To Sonny, From Louis. I can’t tell if the signature was written on this enlarged photo or if it’s on the original. It looks like a fresh signature to me. Printed on the original photo is: Daguerre Chicago.

    In the top left are the words: Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, Exclusive Okeh Record Artists.  It was the first recording band he put together using his own name, and they made music for Okeh during the mid-1920s. The musicians in my photo are not identified, but my research shows them to be (from left to right) Armstrong at the piano with his cornet, Johnny St. Cyr with banjo, Johnny Dodds with clarinet (partially hidden under saxophone), Kid Ory with trombone, and Armstrong’s wife Lil Hardin-Armstrong, who played piano.

    They recorded together from 1925-1927. In 1927, Armstrong organized the Hot Seven, using some of the same musicians. In 1928, he replaced all members of the Hot Five except himself, according to Wikipedia.

    armstrongcloseupThe recordings of the Hot Five are considered some of the best in jazz history. Read a 2007 NPR profile of Armstrong and listen to some selections of his music.

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