When was Louis Armstrong Born?

When was Louis Armstrong Born? 

Nicknamed “Satch,” “Satchmo,” and “Pops,” Louis Armstrong is easily one of the most well-known and beloved jazz musicians in the world. 

Armstrong was born exactly 121 years ago—on August 4, 1901—in New Orleans. Abandoned by his father and raised by his grandmother until age 5, Armstrong unfortunately spent much of his youth living in poverty. However, he found a safe place in the home of a family of Lithuanian Jews for whom he worked, collecting rags, and delivering coal. The family knew that Armstrong lacked a father, so they took special care to feed and nurture him.

At age eleven, Armstrong dropped out of school and joined a street quartet of boys who sang for money. Eventually, he joined a band where he developed his cornet skills. Finally, in 1918, the future legend found his way to a riverboat where he played in a brass band, learned to read music, and began expanding his career.

Now that you know a bit about Armstrong’s origins and childhood, it’s time to take a look at a few of the most pivotal songs in his five-decade-long musicianship!

King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band – Chimes Blues

Dating back to 1923, this is the very first recording that Louis Armstrong ever did! And even at such an early stage in his career, Armstrong was a groundbreaking as an inventive soloist. Just listen to his cornet solo in “Chimes Blues” to see what I’m talking about.

This tune represents the beginning of a foundational change in jazz—a shift in focus from collective musical improvisation to solo performance.

Louis Armstrong – Heebie Jeebies

Also recorded in Chicago, this 1926 tune is said to be the first example of scat singing in jazz history. What is scat singing you may ask? Well, it is improvised jazz singing, usually involving nonsensical syllables that replace lyrics and imitate the sound of an instrument.

Legend has it that Satch dropped a sheet of music while they were recording, so he just did his best to improvise and, in this way, accidentally invented a new style of jazz vocalization that became an instant sensation and inspired countless singers to come! Talk about impressive.

Louis Armstrong – Ain’t Misbehavin’

During a time of segregation, Armstrong was one of the first African American entertainers to “cross over,” meaning that he become popular among not only black audiences but also white and international crowds.

Armstrong performed this song with a band at a popular Harlem nightclub called Connie’s Inn in 1929. White audiences loved his unique style of singing and playing instruments, which led to Armstrong later performing with many popular white musicians. For example, he appeared in many films in the 1950s and 60s, such as High Society in which he played alongside Bing Crosby, Gracey Kelly, and Frank Sinatra.

We hope that you enjoyed this post and that it allowed you to celebrate Satchmo’s birthday!

Obviously, we at Night is Alive do not have any songs featuring Louis Armstrong, but we do have some snazzy tunes that have been inspired by the legacy of Louis Armstrong. A great example is “Hudson River Wind,” which is from our album Old New Borrowed & Blue, available in our store and on all major music platforms.

This blog post was written by Digital Marketing Manager Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Serene Songs for Painting Parties

Serene Songs for Painting Parties

Are you looking for something to do outside with friends this summer? Maybe you’re not the outdoorsy type and you’re more interested in artistic stuff. Well, no problem. If hiking and kayaking sound exhausting to you, and drinking and dining outside have gotten a bit boring, how about hosting an afternoon of painting en plein air? I’m sure that you and your friends will love being able to explore and challenge yourselves creatively, while also getting to chit chat and enjoy the beautiful weather!

And with all the new painting products and techniques out there, you’re sure to find something that fits your interests. Whether it be hiring an instructor to teach watercolor for beginners, using watercolor pencils, Winsor & Newton watercolor pallets, or painting landscapes or portraits, there is a plethora of fun options out there!

By now, you’re probably wondering, what songs should you listen to during your painting party? Don’t worry—since music is our game at Night is Alive, we’ve got you covered!

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Kick off your watercolor painting party with this classic song from 1967 that everyone is sure to know and love. Be like Vincent Van Gogh and capture the feelings of nature around you. Like Armstrong sings, paint pictures of the trees of green, red roses too and the skies of blue and clouds of white.

Hudson River Wind – John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery

With the hot weather we’ve been having lately, there’s nothing like a nice river wind to cool the sweat on the back of our necks, and that is the exact sensation that this beautiful song portrays. Let the saxophone refresh and revitalize your energy and creativity as you splash colors onto your canvas!

Nat King Cole – Nature Boy

This 1948 tune is one of the lesser-known ones from the great Nat King Cole, but by no means is it less enthralling. The lyrics tell the story of a “very strange, enchanted boy” who wandered “very far over land and sea” and told the speaker that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” which I think is a wonderful message to keep in mind as you paint the enchanting world around you. Maybe your finished painting can be given to a loved one as a gift!

The WJ3 All-Stars – Wave

This beautiful lowkey jazz instrumental provides the perfect backdrop for a peaceful day of watercolor painting. Let the soft melody of the trombone and the rhythm of the drums carry your imagination away into a dreamy, blissful landscape.

Lorca Hart Trio – Blues Alliance

There’s nothing more enjoyable to paint than the sky and the setting sun, and this song will inspire you to capture all those stunning shades of blue in your painting.

If you’re hosting a watercolor painting party and you’re looking for some more relaxing instrumentals to set the mood, I would definitely recommend our new albums, Old New Borrowed & Blue and My Ship, both of which merge the musical artistry of new songs with jazz classics. Colors of Jazz would also be a great one since each song represents a different color and emotion. These albums are available in our store and on all major music platforms today. Also, if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians, please contact us today.

5 Jazz Vinyl Albums that You Need on Your Shelf!

Who would’ve thought that vinyl would make such a comeback in the new millennium? Invented in the 1940s, vinyl records are flat discs inscribed with spiral groves that represent the audio waveforms of the original track. As enthusiasts like to point out, vinyl is the purest version of a recording you can get. 

Maybe you know someone who rushed to buy the new vinyl records of Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Frank Ocean. This is all fine and dandy, but, in our opinion, if you truly want the bona fide, old-fashioned experience of sitting down and enjoying a vinyl, you might want to listen to some music with a bit more history to it … like jazz! 

We hand-selected five of the best jazz vinyl albums that you need on your shelf today! 

Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin

In our chaotic modern world, we’re accustomed to plugging in our earbuds while we go to the gym or turning on the radio while we run errands. Seldom do we intentionally take time out of our day to sit down and listen to music on a record player. 

Well, with its incredible intensity of emotion, Billie Holiday’s 1958 album is absolutely one that you’re going to want to sit down for. As you probably already know, Holiday battled addiction for most of her life, which is probably what inspired this breathtaking and heartbreaking album. 

Chet Baker – Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen To You

Coincidentally also released in 1958, this album shows off both Baker’s voice, in a nice selection of jazz standards, and his swinging, melodic trumpet skills, in a few short solos. Baker’s unique vocals, which helped him to rise to fame, are so delicate and elegant that they seem to just float effortlessly from the record player into the air.  

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra at the Sands

Despite his reputation as more of a pop star, Frank Sinatra was indeed a jazz artist. And this 1966 album—recorded live from the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas—captures a compelling portrait of his talents as a jazz musician. The record player’s needle will also bring the album a lovely sense of warmth that’ll make you want to tap your toes! 

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella and Louis

They say that opposites attract, and these two jazz powerhouses are no exception! Fitzgerald has a light and girly voice, while Armstrong’s voice is earthy and deep. Their styles complement one other exquisitely, especially in this 1956 album, which is truly timeless. 

WJ3 All-Stars – Lovers & Love Songs

Like a vinyl record, true love is also ageless, timeless, and enduring. So, what better way to celebrate your love story than with a vinyl record of the newest album from the WJ3 All-Stars. Full of heartwarming melodies and modern renditions of iconic tunes, this album is sure to be remembered as one of the most beloved vinyl records of our era. 

The vinyl record of Lovers & Love Songs, which comes with a bonus signed CD, is available in our store today! 

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

What jazz song matches your favorite ice cream flavor?

From Baskin Robbins to Braums, Halo Top to Tilamook, Haagen Dazs to Carvel, gelato to sundaes, rolled to fried, keto to vegan, mochi to kulfi, there are seemingly infinite possibilities when it comes to ice cream. One thing’s for sure, Americans sure are crazy about this soft, frozen food!

No matter how old you are, when you hear that classic jingle of the ice cream truck coming down the street your instinct is to grab some cash, fly out the front door and flag them down. Or maybe that’s just me… Well either way, there’s nothing like ice cream to remind you of your childhood, or to put a smile on your child or grandchild’s face, so why not find that perfect jazz song to pair with your favorite tasty, icy treat?

Rocky Road – Goin’ to Chicago by Jimmy Rushing

With its roasted almonds, walnuts and diced marshmallows, Rocky Road ice cream has a nice, varied, and gravelly texture to it, just like the voice of Jimmy Rushing. The swing singer, popular in the 1950s, is renowned for his rough-textured tone and wide range of voice, which was able to rise above the boisterous instrumentals of big band ensembles. 

Chocolate and Vanilla – What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

There’s nothing more classic than two scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream in a cone, just like there’s no jazz song more classic and well-known than Louis Armstrong’s 1967 hit, “What a Wonderful World.” Enjoy the last warm days of the season a delicious dessert and dreamy song. I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom… I see skies of blue and clouds of white…

Strawberry – Doop-Doo-De-Doop by Blossom Dearie

Strawberry ice cream is sweet, soft, and light just like the girlish vocals of Blossom Dearie, who playfully sings about love, and not being a party poop, in this song from her 1959 album, Once Upon a Summertime. 

Pistachio – Introspection by Lorca Hart Trio

The first thing that everyone usually notices about pistachio ice cream is its bright green color, which, initially, can even be a bit unnerving. But then your taste buds become tantalized by the smooth, earthy, and distinct flavor of the pistachio nut. Similarly, this new song from the Lorca Hart Trio evokes earthy images of rolling hills and swaying trees, green grass, and beautiful leaves, while also communicating a direct message: that today, in this present moment, the world is wonderful. 

If you’re looking for more bold jazz tunes to bob your foot to while you lick up a delectable scoop of ice cream, look no further than Lorca Hart Trio’s newest album, Colors of Jazz, which will add color to your life with a vibrant rainbow of classic and contemporary compositions. Colors of Jazz is available in our store and on all major music platforms. And if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians, please contact us today.

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild. 

Spring is Here! – Country Jazz Tunes to Celebrate Daylight Saving Time

With spring creeping up on us, you may be wondering, when exactly is daylight savings time? When do the clocks change? Well, this year, your clocks will move forward one hour on Sunday, March 14th at 2am. So, what are you going to do with that extra hour of sunlight? How about kicking back with some country jazz tunes while you watch the sunset! You can nod your head to the music while you watch the darkness of winter dissipate and the brightness of the warmer months approach.

Jimmie Rodgers & Louis Armstrong – Yodel No. 9

You may not be very familiar with country jazz music, but actually the two genres have a long history of intermingling that dates back to 1929 with this collaboration between Louis Armstrong and Jimmie Rodgers (aka the “Father of Country Music”). The narrative lyrics about a man standing on the corner of Beale and Main in Memphis combined with yodeling and Armstrong’s signature trumpeting creates a song that will get you looking forward to taking long walks outside in the sun.

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico –  Are You Alright?

After listening to that 1929 throwback, it’s time for something a bit more modern. This brand new 2021 rendition of “Are You Alright?” features the Grammy-award-winning vocalist Janis Siegel, the NYC jazz pianist John Di Martino and the double bassist Lonnie Plaxico. First written in 2007 by Lucinda Williams, “Are You Alright?” is a song that really speaks to our current collective moment. As Siegel points out, “This tune seems like an anthem for the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the question we are all asking each other over and over again.”

Ray Charles – You Don’t Know Me

When you think of Ray Charles, you probably think of rhythm and blues, soul and jazz, but Charles was also a country star inspired by the music of the small southern town in which he grew up. In his widely successful 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country Music, Charles did jazzy renditions of the most famous country songs in history. “You Don’t Know Me,” one of the songs on the album, reached the #2 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With its evocative, honest and heart wrenching lyrics, originally written by Cindy Walker in 1955, “You Don’t Know Me” is perfect for a moment of relaxation and contemplation on your back patio or front porch during that luminous late afternoon golden hour. 

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue

This is another song from the new 2021 album, Cryin’ in My Whiskey. This rendition retells and spices up Crystal Gayle’s 1977 version while still preserving the essence of the original. Ending with the lively clarinet of Aaron Heick, this tune will make you want to swing, party and jump for joy that spring is finally here!

If you’re ready to welcome the spring with some head-nodding country jazz, we can help. Night is Alive is proud to release the album Cryin’ in My Whiskey, which includes nine tracks of familiar country favorites such as Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and “I Fall to Pieces,” each with a jazz twist. The album is available right now in our store. And if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians for an upcoming party or event, contact us today.

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

6 Tunes to Celebrate International Jazz Day

What better way to come together as a global community during a pandemic than to celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30th? Founded in 2011 by the United Nations, this day aims “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” And this year, with many of the events being streamed online, you can enjoy all the fun and learning that this special day has to offer from the comfort of your home. To gear up for the day, we’ve collected a variety of jazz classics and modern renditions that showcase the history and diversity of jazz.

Louis Armstrong – I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby

We’ve all heard of Louis Armstrong before—the widely influential jazz musician from New Orleans who’s most famous for “It’s A Wonderful World”—but have you ever listened to his first crossover hit from 1929? Featuring Armstrong on muted trumpet, as a vocalist and on open trumpet, this song really showcases the jazz legend’s multitude of talents. 

Miles Davis – “Walkin’”

At the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954, Davis’s performance of “Walkin” announced a new subgenre of jazz—hard bob—to the world. Incorporating influences from rhythm and blues and gospel, hard pop has a rollicking, rhythmic feeling that offers an excellent backdrop for you to get ready for International Jazz Day. Turn on this song while you grab yourself a drink and queue up your virtual feast of jazz music from around the world.

Eliane Elias – So Nice (Samba de Verao)

Blending her Brazilian roots, her sensuous voice and her instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills, Elias creates a style that is uniquely hers. Her 2004 rendition of this bossa nova and jazz standard, originally composed by Marcos Valle, showcases her soft rhythms and silky, sultry vocals. This song will make you want to wiggle your hips ever so slightly to the beat.

Lwanda Gogwana – Ucing’ Uyandazi

Born in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, Gogwana is a trumpeter and composer who fuses traditional Xhosa music with jazz harmonies and contemporary musical elements. This song comes from his 2016 album, Uhadi Synth, which was inspired by the Uhadi musical bow, a traditional Xhosa instrument, and the electronic synthesizer.

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Whenever You Come Around

Siegal, di Martino and Plaxico morph this country song into a funky, soulful version that evokes the style of Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Originally produced by A Vince Gill in 1994, “Whenever You Come Around” has direct message of love, which is something we could all use a bit more of in today’s day and age.

Lorca Hart Trio – Here’s That Rainy Day

Released in 2020 by The Lorca Hart Trio featuring Ralph Moore, this new rendition of the jazz standard creates a smooth, relaxed feeling that’ll help you wind down after the day’s excitement.

If those last two songs—Whenever You Come Around and Here’s That Rainy Day—caught your fancy, then check out the other songs on those albums! Cryin’ in My Whiskey and Colors of Jazz are both are available right now in our store.

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Who Was Oliver Nelson? – A Look at a Great Jazz Saxophone Player’s Life

Oliver Nelson might not have been among the jazz world’s most famous saxophone players, but he made a huge impact during his short career. Read on to learn more about this jazz legend.

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Listen to Jazz Musicians, The Willie Jones III All-Stars on St. Louis Public Radio’s Jazz Unlimited

Looking for New Music from The Willie Jones III All-Stars? Hear the latest from these famous jazz musicians on the November 24th episode of Jazz Unlimited. Learn more about it on our blog.

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Five Ways to Stay Calm and Happy This Holiday Season

The holiday season emphasizes peace, love, and joy, but stress and anxiety can sneak uninvited among the celebrations with our families and loved ones. With political tensions, overcrowded terminals, family disputes, gift-giving pressures, and expectations for perfection, we can easily lose sight of what the holidays should be about. To help set positive intentions this season, here is a list of five simple things you can do to keep yourself calm and happy through the busy weeks ahead.

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