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William C. Altreuter
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've been struggling with whether to pick up Terry Teachout's Louis Armstrong bio-- it probably is the one biography of Armstrong to read, but I find Teachout to be a prig, and although I respect his taste I can't say that we have the same taste. Readers of the Buffalo News will understand when I say that I'd almost rather that Jeff Simon had turned his hand to the task. I trust Simon's taste- I'm not so sure I feel the same way about a critic who doesn't seem to be down with Duke Ellington.

Robert Christgau says that Gary Giddins Armstrong book, "Satchmo" is "biographical criticism rather than a full biography", and that this means that Teachout's "Pops" is the definitive Armstrong for the moment. What that probably means is that I should read both. As I recall Armstrong also wrote at least one well-received memoir, and that probably goes into the beach bag too. I guess I'll just have to make a project out of it, because I'm not going to the beach any time soon.

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