July 31, 1989 12:00 PM

PBS (Mon., July 31, check local listings)


If you want to know the meaning of the word charisma, don’t miss this 90-minute American Masters portrait of the world’s most famous horn player, Louis Armstrong, who died in 1971. The film chronicles his life not just musically, but socially, from his early battles with racism to misguided criticism of him as an Uncle Tom in the late 1960s. Fascinating, humorous insights into his vivid personality are provided by the loving likes of Tony Bennett, Dexter Gordon and former Armstrong band members. Friends say Satchmo smoked up to 10 marijuana cigarettes a day, which may explain his mellowness. Extensive film clips are shown of Armstrong performing alongside such legends as Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge and Jack Teagarden. And wait’ll you hear the raspy-voiced Satchmo crooning “Jeepers Creepers” to a swooning horse! Hello, Louis; it’s so nice to have you back where you belong.

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