Jazz Masters: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter & More

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  • 0:01 Jazz Masters
  • 1:04 Louis Armstrong
  • 2:03 Charlie Parker
  • 2:43 Cole Porter
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Jazz is one of the most American of art forms, and it has helped to define the country's culture. In this lesson, we will take a look at a few of the masters of the genre and how they made an impact on music of the twentieth century.

Jazz Masters

When you think of jazz music, what comes to mind? Do you think of a smoky nightclub, with a singer on the stage and a band, maybe with a trombone or a saxophone, two instruments that have contributed significantly to the genre? You could be thinking of a band class in a high school, where jazz standards are taught to kids with a variety of instruments. You could be thinking of riding in the car with your parents, with jazz music playing softly from the speakers.

In fact, jazz music can be found in many different places, with different sounds and intonations that make up a person's unique jazz style. Most of jazz as we know it began its popularity in the earlier part of the 20th century, and it continues to be popular today. There are many legends of jazz music, and we don't have time to discuss them all today, so we're going to stick to three: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and Cole Porter. All of these men have different backgrounds and different stories, but the one thing they share in common is their love of jazz, from the smoky blues to the mournful wail of the saxophone.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, or Satchmo, as he was known in the world of jazz, was a poor boy from New Orleans, Louisiana, who was raised by his grandmother and by a Jewish family that he worked for. He dropped out of school early, and began singing with a group of boys to make money for his family. Armstrong fell in love with music while in a reform school for boys, where he was exposed to the trumpet for the first time and played in a band.

What followed was one of the most well-known careers in jazz, even today. Louis Armstrong played for presidents, celebrities, and even the King of England, who gave him a gift of a trumpet! Armstrong performed many standards that are still celebrated today, including 'Hello Dolly,' which knocked the Beatles out of the number one spot on the Billboard 100 at the time. Some of his other well-known songs include 'Dream a Little Dream of Me,' and 'What a Wonderful World.' Louis Armstrong's impact can be felt even now, with current artists such as Michael Buble performing his standards.

Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker , also known as 'Bird,' is recognized as a visionary in the world of jazz. Parker is famous for using syncopation and movement within his compositions, features that were expanded upon by subsequent jazz musicians and have become hallmarks of the genre.

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