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The Birth of the Solo

Guy Barker charts the pivotal moments that have changed the direction of jazz. He looks at the birth of the jazz solo and the legacy of the great improviser Louis Armstrong.

Guy Barker continues to explore the history of jazz, focusing on the turning points and pivotal events that have shaped the genre, and discovering some great stories and larger-than-life characters along the way.

In its 100-year history, jazz has seen many changes and developments but, unlike other genres, jazz's direction has frequently changed due to a specific event: a momentary decision, an invention, one performance, or one person's idea. Each episode focuses on what jazz was like directly before this junction, the junction itself, and how things subsequently changed.

Part two, The Birth Of The Solo, considers the legacy of Louis Armstrong. The real soul of all jazz is improvisation, but early jazz musicians were more inclined to extemporise collectively around the melody rather than to perform fully improvised solos. All that changed with the advent of early jazz's greatest improviser and pioneer, Louis Armstrong.

Recordings such as West End Blues, Cornet Chop Suey and Potato Head Blues led the way in a whole new direction for jazz musicians. But where did Louis get his inspiration from? Were his solos purely improvised or had he prepared whole sections in advance? What is it about his music that was so revolutionary and continues to inspire musicians of all styles even today? And was it all about Louis, or were there other great early improvisers who deserve some of the credit?

Fellow trumpeter Guy Barker looks at the birth of the jazz solo with new and archive contributions from Gunther Schuller, "Wild" Bill Davison, Ted Gioia, Hoagy Carmichael, Budd Johnson, Lewis Porter, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Dan Morgenstern, Dick Hyman, Artie Shaw and, of course, Louis Armstrong himself.

1 hour

Music Played

  • King Oliver and His Creole Jazz Band

    Snake Rag

    • The Complete Set.
    • Retrieval.
    • RTR79007.
  • Sam Morgan's Jazz Band

    BOGALUSA STRUT

    • SAM MORGAN ETC.
    • VJM RECORDS.
    • VLP32.
  • Noble Sissle’s Swingsters

    CHARACTERISTIC BLUES

    • SIDNEY BECHET IN NEW YORK 1937-1940.
    • CLASSICS.
    • CLASSICS650.
  • King Oliver

    DIPPERMOUTH BLUES

    • Dippermouth Blues.
    • ASV.
    • CDAJA-5218.
  • Kid Rena

    High Society

    • Jelly Roll Morton.
    • RCA.
    • CD ND82361(5).
  • Ruby Braff & Howard Alden

    Cornet Chop Suey

    • CORNET CHOP SUEY.
    • CONCORD JAZZ.
    • CCD-4606.
  • Clarence Williams’ Blue Five

    Cake Walking Babies From Home (feat. Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet & Eva Taylor)

    • WILD CAT BLUES.
    • RHAPSODY.
    • RHA-6031.
  • Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

    HEEBIE JEEBIES

    • LOUIS ARMSTRONG'S HOT FIVES, VOLUME 1.
    • CBS.
    • 460821-1.
  • Louis Armstrong

    SAVOY BLUES

    • The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings.
    • Columbia Legacy.
    • C4K-063527.
  • Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven

    Potato Head Blues

    • The Rough Guide To Classical Jazz.
    • World Music Network.
    • RGNET-1012CD.
  • Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

    WEST END BLUES

    • HOT FIVE AND HOT SEVEN.
    • GIANTS OF JAZZ.
    • CD-0242.
  • Louis Armstrong

    WEATHER BIRD

    • Louis Armstrong - King Louis.
    • Proper.
    • P1470.
  • Louis Armstrong

    Ain't Misbehavin'

    • The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong.
    • UCJ.
    • 60249-836861.
  • Frankie Trumbauer

    SINGIN' THE BLUES

    • UNKNOWN.
    • BBC.
    • BBCCD-589.
  • Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra

    Clementine

    • BIX BEIDERBECKE LEGEND.
    • RCA.
    • RD-27225.
  • Paul Whiteman

    From Monday On

    • The Bix Beiderbecke Story.
    • Proper.
    • Properbox-66.
  • Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra

    Chinatown My Chinatown

    • Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra.
    • Chronological Classics.
    • Classics 536.
  • Budd Johnson & Louis Armstrong

    SWEET SUE JUST YOU

    • The Complete RCA Victor Recordings.
    • Bluebird.
    • 090266-30462.
  • Cab Calloway

    YOU RASCAL YOU

    • CAB CALLOWAY 1931-1932.
    • CLASSICS.
    • CLASSICS526.
  • Duke Ellington

    EAST ST LOUIS TOODLE OO

    • Masterpieces 1926-49.
    • Proper.
    • Properbox-25.
  • Louis Armstrong

    STRUTTIN' WITH SOME BARBECUE

    • LOUIS ARMSTRONG: GREAT ORIGINAL PERFORMANCES 1923-1931.
    • BBC.
    • CD-597.
  • Dr. Dre

    Forgot About Dre (feat. Eminem)

    • 2001.
    • Interscope Records.
    • 10.

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