Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who nearly died this spring, is happily back practicing for his eventual return to work, shown in the upstairs den of his Corona, New York home on June 23, 1971. Armstrong had newsmen in to show his recovery from his near-fatal illness and to thank his fans for their mail during his 10 week hospital stay. (AP Photo/John Rooney)

The Word on Louis

A new book about the life of Louis Armstrong has been published which highlights some of the issues around the best-known jazz artist of, well, all time. There lies the issue with the ground-breaking musician who became a popular entertainer and loved by millions – was his subsequent popularity and showbiz career at the cost of his musical credibility and at odds with the civil rights struggles so many of his contemporaries were fighting?

This article in The Guardian starts to unpack the arguments from both perspectives. The starting point is always the gifted trumpet player from New Orleans without whom jazz could have ended up quite different…