Marc Myers, whose JazzWax has become one of the most widely read and influential jazz sites on the Web, interviewed me about Pops earlier this month. This week he’s posting a five-installment series devoted to that interview.
Here’s part of today’s installment:
JW What did Armstrong understand about simplicity that was lost on so many other musicians?
TT Simplicity is absolutely central to Louis’ development as an artist. Louis started out as a young virtuoso who was in love with the sound of his own horn. When you can play anything you hear, you want to hear yourself play. Louis apprenticed with King Oliver, who ingrained in him the centrality of melody to the jazz musician. Armstrong’s exposure to Oliver and his view of melody made him feel that it was not only appropriate to embrace simplicity but also vital to appeal to audiences in an immediate way.
JW But Oliver was certainly less technically gifted than Armstrong.
TT That’s true. Yet it’s Oliver who made Armstrong believe it was far better to be simple than complicated. Armstrong internalized these lessons at age 21, and he lived by them throughout his career….
To read the whole thing, go here.