Louis Armstrong’s mix tapes

In a typical year, Louis Armstrong spent more than three hundred days on the road, bringing his music to audiences around the world. He always traveled with a steamer trunk designed to house two reel-to-reel tape decks and a turntable, and he carried a stash of music for his own listening pleasure, to while away the hours he spent in hotels and dressing rooms before and after each gig.

Tapes being less fragile than LPs, and possessing longer recording capacity, he ultimately transferred much of his collection to seven-inch reels. He also made mix tapes of his favorite tunes. He liked musicians who prized melody, and his selections range from Glenn Miller to Jelly Roll Morton to Tchaikovsky. Occasionally he added commentary over the music or played along, and he made copies of his own recordings, to which (unlike many musicians) he enjoyed listening.

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