Trying to narrow down the most influential jazz musician in history can be a tough feat. Mostly due to the fact that jazz music in itself is hard to pinpoint. The history of jazz has seen various styles and eras that have built the legacy that we experience today. To pick even a handful of artists who’ve made the most impact seems impossible in such conditions.

Even so, there is a set of innovators who’ve had a huge contribution in molding jazz into the form it has taken now.  

Yet, if you absolutely had to pick one jazz artist who had the most influence on the genre, then it has to be Louis Armstrong. Also known as Satchmo or Pops, Armstrong was a jazz trumpet player and singer from New Orleans.

How Louis Armstrong Revolutionized Jazz

He played a major role in the creation of modern jazz and is considered to be one of the best musicians in history.

Previously, jazz was mostly a collective improvisation and call for response. However, Armstrong revolutionized the music by making the focus about individual soloists instead. This was mostly done by the use of a trumpet as a solo instrument for jazz in his Hot Five recordings. The evidence of its effect can still be found in modern jazz.

Miles Davis summed up his influence on the music when he said, “You can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t played.”

Notable Works

One of his most important works includes What A Wonderful World, a song that he recorded during the last few years of his life. Although the song didn’t see much success during his lifetime, it will later go on to become one of the most important songs in history.

What’s ironic is that, in a career that spanned 48 years, Louis Armstrong’s most important song in one with no trumpet and a melody that was inspired by Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Yet, his heartfelt interpretation of the song clearly shows how much it meant to him.

‘There’s so much in “Wonderful World” that brings me back to my neighborhood where Lucille and I have lived since we were married,” he said talking about the song. “Everyone keeps their little homes up like we do, and it’s just like one big family. I saw three generations come up on that block. It is a wonderful world!’

Some of his other noteworthy works include:

  • Cake Walking Babies (From Home)
  • Stardust
  • La Vie En Rose
  • Basin Street Blues
  • Hello, Dolly!
  • When You’re Smiling
  • Hotter Than That
  • Dream A Little Dream Of Me
  • Potato Head Blues
  • West End Blues


The influence of his singing can also be found in the styles of famous singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Whereas his trumpet playing inspired people like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.

Even today, many bands around the world have dedicated themselves to preserving and honoring Louis Armstrong’s music and style. This includes the Louis Armstrong Society, located in New Orleans, Louisiana.