Back in 1933, before the hamming and caricature roles in movies, Armstrong was in Copenhagen, Denmark, during a year-long tour of Europe. There, three songs were filmed, the first time Armstrong was captured by a movie camera.
What we see and hear is Armstrong on stage at the Tivoli Concert Hall playing and singing jazz's swing foundation, which would hold for the next two decades and beyond. Listen to his vocal, how he phrases and bends notes; listen to what he's doing on trumpet, at the dawn of the Great Depression; and dig the slippery syncopation. The music is no longer a frantic grab for the feet. Instead, it's a seductive outreach to the heart and mind.
The Danish film, called København, Kalundborg og?, gives you a sense of how far ahead of his time Armstrong was and why he's credited as jazz's architect and the father of the jazz trumpet.
Here's the film...
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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