About the author: Dr. Brooks holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Keele. He earned his living as a businessman in the City of London until selling his company to become a writer and musicologist. He has written for the BBC and magazines.2001 0-7734-7546-X
This study examines Armstrong’s cornet and trumpet work during his most innovative period, 1923-28, with a view to laying bare the sources of some of the impulses which contribute to the great outburst of emotion and variety of styles that inform that work. Analysis of the styles of contemporaries such as Bunk Johnson, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Bessie Smith, Bix Beiderbecke, Earl Hines and others reveals characteristics which affected Armstrong. Influences such as white bands, opera and radio, minor modality, other compositions and the desire for anonymity are also treated. The study identifies influential passages, figures, devices and techniques, as well as tracing Armstrong’s assimilation of these influences as reflected in specific aspects of his playing. A concluding chapter considers an Armstrong cornet solo in a more holistic fashion: a scrutiny of his manner of integrating influence, with self-reference and original material, in an extended passage.