A Life of Louis Armstrong
By Terry Teachout
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151010899, 496pp.)
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
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Louis Armstrong was the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century and a giant of modern American culture. He knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts, wrote the finest of all jazz autobiographies - without a collaborator - and created collages that have been compared to the art of Romare Bearden. The ranks of his admirers included Johnny Cash, Jackson Pollock and Orson Welles. Offstage he was witty, introspective and unexpectedly complex, a beloved colleague with an explosive temper whose larger-than-life personality was tougher and more sharp-edged than his worshipping fans ever knew."
Wall Street Journal" arts columnist Terry Teachout has drawn on a cache of important new sources unavailable to previous Armstrong biographers, including hundreds of private recordings of backstage and after-hours conversations that Armstrong made throughout the second half of his life, to craft a sweeping new narrative biography of this towering figure that shares full, accurate versions of such storied events as Armstrong's decision to break up his big band and his quarrel with President Eisenhower for the first time. Certain to be the definitive word on Armstrong for our generation, "Pops" paints a gripping portrait of the man, his world and his music that will stand alongside Gary Giddins' "Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams" and Peter Guralnick's "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley" as a classic biography of a major American musician.
TERRY TEACHOUT is the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal and the chief culture critic of Commentary. He played jazz professionally before becoming a full-time writer. His books include All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, and A Terry Teachout Reader. He blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com.
Jazz icon Louis Armstrong didn't just leave behind a treasure trove of musical recordings; he also documented hundreds of his private conversations on tape. Those recordings served as the basis for Terry Teachout's new biography of the legendary musician, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong. More at NPR.org
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