Shadow and Act Characters

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Louis Armstrong

Although no essay in Shadow and Act focuses on Louis Armstrong (1900-1971) alone, Ellison makes reference to him many times throughout the collection, both as a blues master and as a distinctive type of musical performer. In several instances, but most explicitly in "On Bird, Bird-Watching, and Jazz," Ellison makes the point that although Armstrong's theatrical, joking, and self-deprecating style is clown-like, it is "basically a make-believe role of clown." Although other jazzmen, such as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, sought to disassociate themselves with the role of such performance in the name of respecting their racial identity, Ellison asserts that Armstrong's strength of lyric and trumpet redeem his performance and make him "an outstanding creative musician."

Charlie Christian

In "The Charlie Christian Story," Ellison calls his friend Christian "probably the greatest of jazz guitarists." Originally from Ellison's native Oklahoma City, he led a "spectacular career...

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This section contains 712 words
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Buy the Shadow and Act Study Guide
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Shadow and Act from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.