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Jazz Junctions: 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.

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

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band

    Snake Rag

  • 00:07

    Sam Morgan's Jazz Band

    Bogalusa strut

  • 00:08

    Noble Sissle’s Swingsters

    Characteristic Blues

  • 00:08

    King Oliver

    Dippermouth Blues

  • 00:08

    Ruby Braff & Howard Alden

    Cornet Chop Suey

  • 00:11

    Clarence Williams, Clarence & Blue Five

    Cake Walking Babies From Home

  • 00:14

    Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

    Heebie Jeebies

  • 00:18

    Louis Armstrong

    Savoy blues

  • 00:19

    Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven

    Potato Head Blues

  • 00:22

    Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

    West End Blues

  • 00:27

    Louis Armstrong

    Weather Bird

  • 00:31

    Louis Armstrong

    Ain't Misbehavin'

  • 00:34

    Frankie Trumbauer

    Singin' The Blues

  • 00:38

    Paul Whiteman

    From Monday On

  • 00:42

    Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra

    Chinatown My Chinatown

  • 00:47

    Louis Armstrong & Budd Johnson

    Sweet Sue Just You

  • 00:48

    Cab Calloway

    You Rascal You

  • 00:51

    Duke Ellington

    East St Louis Toodle-Oo

  • 00:53

    Louis Armstrong

    Struttin' With Some Barbecue


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