"What must it have been like to have been in New Orleans, in the early days of the 20th century, during the birth of jazz? From what sort of magical realist scene could this art form have emerged? I used to close my eyes and pray for a glimpse of this mystery which would perhaps remain forever shrouded in the mists of time. But now I don’t have to use my imagination anymore because I have this book; and the truth is as fantastic as I had dreamt it to be. It is populated with the kind of eccentric, colorful characters that one would expect roamed the streets of Old New Orleans. Louis brings us into their world, which is sometimes dangerous, full of hard living, but always infused with the redemptive nature of good humor."
”In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who'd stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was lots of just plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn't faze me at all, I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.” So says Louis Armstrong, a tough kid who just happened to be a musical genius, about one of the places where he performed and grew up. This raucous, rich tale of his early days in New Orleans concludes with his departure to Chicago at twenty-one to play with his boyhood idol King Oliver, and tells the story of a life that began, mythically, on July 4, 1900, in the city that sowed the seeds of jazz.