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"Hot music? I don't know what to say about it. I love it, I love to play it, and I love to hear it!" Such was Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's eminently satisfactory comment on the Art of the Hour, Swing Music. The greatest trumpeter since that day at Jericho when "The people heard the sound of the trumpet and the wall fell down flat." (Joshua VI, 20). Louis Armstrong, whom Hugues Panassie, the author of "Le Jazz Hot", considers "not only a genius in his own art, but one of the most extraordinary creative geniuses that all music has over known", lay on the cot of Metropolitan Theatre star dressing room trying to cool down from the heat he had delivered in the stage show of the previous hour.
Old Steel Lips went on to say he took up the trumpet at the age of fourteen and worked first as a bugle boy in an army camp down in Louisiana. "The boys came runnin' fast for eats when I let go on that mess call." And now his trumpets ("Lil' Satchel-mouth") don't last up long under Louis' lung power. The intricate instrument of shining brass he plays today he's had only since 1933, and he's already ordered a new one made up for him.
"Hollywood was grand. And Ring Cros-by-you know I worked with him in 'Pennies From Heaven'--why I've known Ring for so long, I've watched him grow. He's almost like one of my boys and he can swing too, though they never give him much of a chance. Armstrong almost blushed when complimented on his loss of weight. "Yeah I guess the Hollywood diet must have got me. Why, when I was in Boston a year ago I had a brown suit that was tight like a drum. But I don't seem to be able to do much about my weight. It goes up and down, just like an accordian, depending on how much I eat, and I eat a lot." Mrs. Armstrong, whom Louis says everyone calls "Alpha", a good-looking and trim young woman who sat in the dressing room throughout the interview, seemed to think this discussion of Louis' figure very amusing, and her final comment was "Oh, he's hopeless."
Armstrong is no jealous genius, for although practically all the top swingers of today recognize him as their leading tutor, he had nothing but praise for his tutees. He talked long about the various hot artists playing here and there. Sad and sentimental over the death of his friend, the immortal Bix Beiderbecke. Louis waxed enthusiastic about Benny Goodman. He admires him not only as a clarinet player but as a white band leader who has had the courage to hire Negro artists such as the pianist Teddy Wilson and the vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, who are to be heard in the superb recordings of Benny Goodman's quartet.
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