Thomas Brothers has written a passionate, intimate story about early twentieth-century New Orleans, and it is truly an exciting account where truth is much stranger than fiction. This is a story of a unique American city and a unique American jazz artist.
There are many scenes and locations covered, including Funky Butt Hall. The earthy, wonderful foundations of early American jazz are put into action by such jazz performers as Joe Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Buddy Bolden. That New Orleans gave birth to many jazz sounds and jazz artists is documented.
New Orleans was a testing ground for the young genius of jazz music, Louis Armstrong. He took in the sounds of the city and added his own unique blend! The New Orleans of Armstrongs time was a unique mixture of political social and cultural forces at work. Louis Armstrong was playing blues in honky-tonks and nightclubs at age fourteen. By age twenty he had become a seasoned veteran of the riverboat circuit.
Thomas Brothers captures the essence of Louis Armstrong during this era while at the same instant capturing the soul of the city of New Orleans and the origins of jazz. This book covers indepth the first twenty-one years of Louis Armstrong's life. This well-researched book contains candid commentaries by Armstrong Joe Oliver Sidney Bechet Jelly Roll Morton Punch Miller Big Nose Sidney and Red Happy Bolton. Armstong is on record as saying Bolton was "the greatest showman of them all."
The photographs give added enjoyment to the history. The notes are fascinating in their details. The index and bibliography is well-arranged and indepth.
For those interested in Louis Armstrong's early beginnings and influences this is definitely a great reading experience and a book which should be in every jazz lover's library. It is a good book to have your local librarian order for public library patrons. Following the preface and introduction are twelve chapters. Among the many fine chapters are "Tuxedo Brass Band1921" "Street Hustler" "Lessons with Oliver" "Ragtime and Buddy Bolden" "Rough and beautiful" and "Melody That Changed the World." Of special note is the revelations shared by the author in the chapter ""Most of the musicians were Creoles."" Louis Armstrong's vision of jazz is seen in all of its beauty and far-reaching dreams.
Thomas Brothers is the author of Louis Armstrong: In His Own Words. He is a professor of music at Duke University and lives in North Carolina.
This is a fine book well-crafted and well-researched. It entertains and it educates. It offers an accurate look at the young Louis Armstrong and his times in New Orleans. Highly recommended. This book is a joy to read and savor.