Say “Lewis”

Posting that Stevie Wonder video reminded me of another music video that I find fascinating:

I found it on a blog written by Robert Zimmerman (no, not that Robert Zimmerman) called Re:harmonized. Dr. Zimmerman is a music professor at Duke University, and he used this clip to teach jazz history. This clip overshadows any doubt that it’s not just Armstrong’s music, but his musical personality — the way his music is inseparable from his personality — that makes him such an enduring figure. According to Zimmerman,

He effortlessly dominates this ensemble, as he did most every group he played with, but when it’s time to share the spotlight he doesn’t just step aside–he directs his enthusiasm at the band so everybody knows that he digs what the other guys are doing, too. …[H]is musical thinking comes through in his body language.

It would probably be fairly easy to find someone who can play a trumpet as well as Armstrong, and maybe someone who can sing as well as Armstrong (though not necessarily in the same way), but damn they won’t be half the musician Louis is without that radiant enthusiasm. You can see the same thing in the way Stevie Wonder throws his head back and gets that huge grin when he feels that his music is going down just right — check out how he reacts after going “ooowee ba-by” in the clip below, and if you have the time please watch his performance on Sesame Street in 1972.


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