Walk the Talk

by Robbie Schlosser

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.

What have I learned from Louis Armstrong?

Louis Armstrong

To be an expressive musician, certainly.  But to be a whole person, more importantly.  To “walk the talk”.

Walk the Talk”, is a familiar expression we all use for “mean what you say, say what you mean, and act accordingly”. In other words, “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words”.

Before I ever heard the expression “Walk the Talk” I liked the idea, and I recall one early example that made a great impression on me.  More in a minute.  First a story.

Several years ago I wrote about my early life. In my school years, my main interests focused on biological sciences and music. Sciences occupied much of my academic time, and music filled most of the rest.

School programs, choruses, bands and orchestras introduced me to an enormous range of European and American music, and my own reading and listening filled in many of the blanks.

In junior high school I first became interested in jazz — listening, playing, and reading about it.  Books, magazines, and LP liner notes.

I’d begun playing violin in the third grade, and trumpet in the fourth grade, so by the time my interest in jazz caught fire a few years later, I was listening endlessly to Louis Armstrong’s recordings and reading everything I could find about him.

For influence and popularity, Armstrong was like Frank Sinatra + Elvis + the Beatles + Michael Jackson + Lady Gaga, all combined, only MUCH more so.  From his first flight into stardom in the early 1920s, generations of musicians around the world played like him and sang like him, before they developed their own styles.

Singers, too: Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and HUNDREDS more.  His impact on popular music and jazz was enormous and total.  What a legacy!  And I was smitten, too.

One thing that impressed me was how often people marveled that Armstrong’s playing, his singing, his speaking, and his “presentation” were all so similar.  He was all one piece.

Expressive phrasing, dramatic timing, boundless joy, sincere enthusiasm, desire to entertain, and how to convey an idea — what to include and what to omit.  This was all heady stuff for a kid like me, and I began modeling myself after his example.

After all these years I still do, only these days people call it “being authentic”.

Now back to “Walk the Talk“:  I’ll talk about myself here, but these comments are good guides for ALL of us.

These days, in everything I do, I try to be open and honest, genuine, reliable, and trustworthy.  It makes living my life so easy, you know?

From how I behave, people tell me they can count on me to be consistent.  I’m NOT the kind of person who says, “Once you’ve learned how to fake sincerity, you’ve got it made”.

Whatever I do, whether I’m enjoying a get together with friends, or helping people plan the music for their celebrations, or using my music to help people have a great time, I’m always the same ME.

I could have titled this little essay “What I Learned from Louis Armstrong”.  Here’s the answer:  In every way, I aim to act as who I actually am.  How about you?

Bottom line:  Who made a great impression on YOU, and what did you learn from them?

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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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