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August 4 marks the 101st birthday of New Orleans’ trumpet player and singer—and America’s most important jazz musician—Louis Armstrong. In celebration of Satchmo’s birthday, we speak with members of his All-Stars band, Joe Muranyi (clarinet) and Arvell Shaw (bass). On the ground in New Orleans, young trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Kermit Ruffins offer their perspectives on “Pops’” influence today. Also, a look at how the Marsalis family honored Armstrong’s centennial, and music from collaborators King Oliver, Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday.


American Routes poses the question: “What is cool?” A style, a state of mind, the perfect horn riff, just chillin’? Some guests from the past year offer their answers, including Merle Haggard, Yo La Tengo, McCoy Tyner, T-Bone Burnett and Ray Charles. All backed up, of course, by our “cool” music mix (depicted: clarinet player Don Byron and Yale art historian of “coolness” Robert Farris Thompson).


American Routes keeps you cool in the heat of the summer with help from guests Bo Diddley and Tony Joe White. Mississippi-born and Chicago-bred legend Bo Diddley talks about his rockin’ blues and freight train sound, and Tony Joe comes up from the swamps to play an acoustic version of “Polk Salad Annie”, among other tunes. Plus a refreshing summer visit to a New Orleans landmark: Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, servin’ up the best sno-cones you’ve ever tasted.


American Routes takes a peek at the producers, sidemen and record company moguls who can make or break a record. New Orleans saxophonist Harold Battiste on playing with Ornette Coleman, acting as music director for Sonny & Cher, and founding his own jazz and blues label. Plus the inside story on Muddy Waters’ much maligned, but imaginative, 1968 album Electric Mud, by producer Marshall Chess and musicians Pete Cosey and Louis Satterfield.


It’s American Routes‘ July 4th extravaganza, and who better to bring you sounds for this all-American holiday? Take a break from the barbecue and join us for visits with artists who’ve changed the face of American music, including Ray Charles, Celia Cruz and David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, and songs from James Brown, Sonny Rollins and Charles Ives.