Located in uptown
New Orleans, Louisiana
513 Octavia Street
(corner of Laurel)
The story of Louis Armstrong’s later years is the great untold tale of postwar jazz. Now Ricky Riccardi has told it to perfection. What a Wonderful World is a unique and indispensable landmark in Armstrong scholarship, a weathervane that will point the way to all future writings on his life and work.
—Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong
has been written about Louis Armstrong, but the majority of it focuses
on the early and middle stages of his long career. Now, Ricky
Riccardi—jazz scholar and musician—takes an in-depth look at the years
in which Armstrong was often dismissed as a buffoonish, if popular,
entertainer, and shows us instead the inventiveness and depth of
expression that his music evinced during this time.
These are the years (from after World War II until his death in 1971) when Armstrong entertained crowds around the world and recorded his highest-charting hits, including “Mack the Knife” and “Hello, Dolly!”; years when he collaborated with, among others, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck; when he recorded with strings and big bands, and, of course, with the All Stars, his primary recording ensemble for more than two decades. Riccardi makes clear that these were years in which Armstrong both burnished and enhanced his legacy as one of jazz’s most influential figures.
Eminently readable, informative, and insightful, here, finally, is a book that enlarges and completes our understanding of a peerless musical genius of commanding influence as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist.
Click here to hear Fred Kasten's "Sound of Books" interview of Ricky Riccardi.
Click here to listen podcast of Ricky Riccardi's guest appearance on "The Reading Life" with Susan Larson.