Ricky Riccardi - Louis Armstrong’s Biographer

Masterclass

BIMM prides itself on recruiting experts from every field in the broader world of music to work with students on enriching their learning experience.

BIMM Bristol was therefore proud to host a unique Masterclass with jazz music archivist, biographer and historian, Ricky Riccardi.

Ricky is archivist at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and one of the leading experts on the enormously influential jazz figure. On his first ever UK visit – and in town to attend the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival – Ricky was happy to include a talk at BIMM Bristol in his schedule.

As a historian, Ricky studied Jazz to Masters Level, with much of his study time taking place at the Louis Armstrong House Museum where he is now custodian of the archives. Ricky’s thesis was published as a respected Louis Armstrong tome, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

The museum, situated in Armstrong’s hometown of Queens, New York, is a magnificent repository of jazz history, and Ricky shared his expertise on jazz and its abiding influence, much of which stems from Armstrong.

Comparing pieces of Armstrong’s music with that of Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Humphrey Lyttleton and The Beatles, Ricky demonstrated the strong current of influence we can still perceive today.

“It’s all a progression from Louis,”said Ricky. “Soul, Jazz, Swing, RnB, Pop. Louis is the architect of this music and the grandfather of Hip-Hop.”

Ricky shared archive recordings of Louis himself listening to music: “Yeah Yeah Yeah Caruso!” says Armstrong after one performance by Enrico Caruso.

With such spine-tingling material to hand, Ricky communicated Armstrong’s lifelong passion for music and his own passion for the life and work of Louis Armstrong, concluding, “ When you talk about revolutions in music and what Louis brought to Jazz music, basically there was nothing like that in Jazz before Louis Armstrong.” An extremely rare an inspiring treat.

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