Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

The Arts Along the River

Music of the Mississippi

Satchmo and Bix, Jazzmen

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Jazz exhibit section
Artifacts, artwork, and images were on display from several sources, including:
~ James Hicks, Iowa City IA
~ Louis Armstrong House and Archives at Queens College, Flushing NY
~ Putnam Museum of History and Science, Davenport IA

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, 1901-1971

"I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and for you,
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world …
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world."
--Louis Armstrong

The illegitimate son of a New Orleans laundress, Louis Armstrong worked around the clubs on Bourbon Street as a child, and at age 10, dropped out of school to become a street musician. After being placed in an orphanage in 1913, Louis received his first coronet lesson.

For over 30 years beginning in 1918, "Satchmo" performed with a succession of bands on national tours. He appeared in over 30 films between 1932 and 1969, ending with a virtuoso performance in "Hello Dolly." A regular on TV variety shows, Armstrong was a gifted actor with superb comic timing and an unabashed joy of life.

One of the greatest celebrities of the 20th century, this horn player changed the face of American music by challenging the accepted notions of range and tone. His brilliant trumpet solos remain in a class by itself. A founding father of jazz, Louis Armstrong recorded thousands of tunes such as "Mack the Knife," "Up the Lazy River," and probably the most requested song of all, "What a Wonderful World."

Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, 1903-1931

"Bix's breaks were not as wild as Armstrong's but they were hot and he selected each note with musical care. He showed me that jazz could be musical and beautiful, as well as hot. He showed me that tempo doesn't mean fast."
- Hoagy Carmichael

The youngest son of a German American family in Davenport, Iowa, a young Bix Beiderbecke could play nearly any song he heard on the piano but never learned to read music. Nevertheless, at age 15 he mastered the cornet so that he could play the Dixieland jazz so popular on Mississippi riverboats.

By the age of 19, Bix set out to become the best jazz hornman in the land, and the notes coaxed out of his horn were pure and beautiful. In the 1920s he played with a variety of bands, eventually joining the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and in the early 1930s, he played with the Dorsey Brothers and with Benny Goodman.

But Bix was a victim of alcohol abuse and could not hold a steady job. He died alone in his New York apartment at the age of 28, succumbing to pneumonia and alcohol poisoning.


This section "The Arts Along the River" has the following related pages:

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2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
You are here!jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
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