[Dixielandjazz] Armstrong "imitators"

Anton Crouch anton.crouch at optusnet.com.au
Sat Jul 31 00:05:04 PDT 2004

Hello all

"Imitation" is a broad topic and I think we may have drifted away from the
point originally made by Bill Haesler - the awfulness of the singing of so
many players when they try to emulate the style of Louis. Also, let's
remember that impersonation is different to imitation. I gather that Elvis
impersonation is a notifiable disease in the USA but I don't know of any
attempts at Louis impersonation. Hardly surprising, seeing that most Louis
wannabes are middle-aged to elderly Anglo-Europeans   :-)

Louis' style (both instrumental and vocal) has been fair game for imitators
for almost 80 years and the imitation reflects both the admiration for, and
economic sense of copying, a great artist. 

When it comes to trumpet playing, many have done it well and some have done
it very well - Jabbo Smith, Henry Allen and Jack Purvis come to mind. With
the singing, though, it's a different matter - Louis had the gift of a
distinctive voice and an impeccable rhythmic sense. Most imitators of the
singing get only the voice (partly) right and miss-out completely on the
rhythm. When Louis sang, the performance kept swinging; with the imitators
it drags. Louis was indeed a great jazz singer, even though he wasn't the

He most certainly did play (and sing) "that thing".

All the best

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