Louis Armstrong Music Analysis

1817 Words 7 Pages
My paper’s approach to Louis Armstrong’s small band performance in Australia is organized by song. In each of these song sections, I describe what is generally going on. Intermixed amongst my musical review, I also interject my personal feelings and perceptions to what is occurring. I have organized my structure this way in order to provide a methodical structure to my analysis. Louis Armstrong starts playing the trumpet in the first song, “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” almost immediately after walking onto the stage. The song is quite sullen, with all of the instruments playing in a soft, slow manner. Soon after the head ends, Louis Armstrong moves into a voice solo. Although his voice is quite rough, it interestingly invokes a certain …show more content…
His melding of the song’s lyrics with jocular remarks perfectly embodies the mixing and matching that occurs in jazz performances. Armstrong’s comments on his makeup and how hard the pianist is playing relax the atmosphere and sustain my attention on what he is saying. The instrumental play reacts to what he is saying, with his voice acting as a conductor, pulling the drums, bass, piano, trombone, and finally clarinet into playing. It seems that a lot of call and response is going on in this piece, with Armstrong’s voice starting out the sequence and the various instruments responding in time. Armstrong switches to playing a brief trumpet solo that stretches the instrument’s upper range, as the trombone player begins singing. For the rest of the song, the trombone player and Armstrong exchange vocal lines. Towards the end of the song, they are solely scat singing. The back-and-forth reminds me of the discussion we had in class about having impromptu conversations. The two musicians are really playing off of each other’s words. The walking bass and drums set up a consistent beat, with the piano harmonizing and clarinet almost playing as a “third-wheel” to the two vocalists. Compared to the last song, “Now You Has Jazz,” is much more positive in tone and seems to represent a turning point in the …show more content…
With the beat set by the drums and the piano comping during the beginning of the solo, expert plucking and intense bow play show the bass’s wide-ranging capabilities. I love the energy, focus, and enthusiasm the bassist shows by contorting his face. In order to close the song, the clarinet, trombone, and trumpet come in during the last thirty seconds. This song was truly enjoyable, both from a visual and sound perspective. Because of the over eight minutes of pure bass play, I felt that the musician was really able to explore the instrument. During this song, I realize the showmanship that infuses the performance. All of the musicians are casual and engaging to listen

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