Tag Archives: Louis Armstrong

Who’s for a Swim?

Peter Batten writes about Bix and Louis

Last month I gave a talk to a Jazz Appreciation group in Preston Park. It was the first in a series of six entitled, ‘Jazz Contrasts’. This was a follow-up to add detail to my previous series, ‘Six Studies in the Art of Jazz’. The first major contrast was between Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. I am sure you will have heard of Louis, but Bix who? In the late 1920s Bix Beiderbecke was a much admired jazz cornet player. He was almost a cult idol. Featured with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, he was adored by both fans and fellow musicians, among them Bing Crosby. He was still in his twenties, but his health was already in decline. In 1931 he died. Continue reading Who’s for a Swim?

The Great Sixteen

Peter Batten celebrates the great Muggsy Spanier…

My title will probably mean nothing to most of you. Even if you are a jazz fan your enthusiasm and knowledge may not extend back much beyond the 1950s. It refers to a series of recordings made between 1939 and 1940 by a jazz band called ‘Muggsy Spanier and His Ragtimers’.

Muggsy Spanier
Muggsy Spanier

Muggsy, real name Francis Joseph Spanier, was born in Chicago in 1906. By the early 1920s he was already a professional cornet player. He was to continue playing that instrument for the rest of his career, although most cornet players had switched to the trumpet by the end of the 1920s. Chicago at that time was becoming the jazz centre of the USA. Many influential jazz musicians had come up the river from New Orleans, including Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and the young Louis Armstrong. Jazz bands could be heard at night in many parts of the City. Muggsy soon became an accomplished jazz soloist. Continue reading The Great Sixteen