Recorded by Louis Armstrong
Arranged by Tommy Goodman, Prepared for Publication by Rob DuBoff and Jeffrey Sultanof
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Cat #: JLP-6234


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Edition: Jazz Studio Orchestra Arrangement with Vocal

Description: Ballad (12/8 Feel) - Medium Easy

Publisher: Jazz Lines Publications

Despite its optimistic lyrics and inviting melody, the circumstances surrounding Louis Armstrong's now-iconic What a Wonderful World are surprisingly complicated. Recorded during an unusually tension-filled session in 1967, the song was largely ignored upon release in the United States due to a lack of promotion by ABC Records, whose president harbored an intense dislike for it. It wasn't until over 20 years later, when the song was used in the soundtrack for the film Good Morning, Vietnam, that it experienced a surprise breakout in popular success, ultimately culminating in being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

The arrangement itself is fairly simple, utilizing gentle held chords in the strings with some occasional easy melody lines in the woodwinds and trombone. The rhythm section maintains a steady 12/8 ballad pulse throughout, enhanced by the presence of two guitars playing with different approaches. One guitar (electric) follows a more traditional strumming technique, while the other adheres to style that is triplet-heavy and arpeggiated (acoustic). This orchestral simplicity allows Armstrong's vocals to remain the star of the show at all times. It's important for your vocalist to study his performance, as his delivery is much more straightforward and wistful than the sweetly sappy approach many assume it to be. Remember to allow an appropriate level of patience to the performance's conclusion - it should have a little bit of movement while managing to not feel overly rushed.

Note that the arrangement also calls for both acoustic bass (pizz and arco) and an electric bass guitar. However, if necessary, the arrangement may be played with only the acoustic bass.

This publication was prepared using the original parts as supplied by the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Thanks for the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc. for granting us permission to publish this arrangement.

Full Score
Vocal Group (3 Women/3 Men)
Woodwind 1: Flute/Clarinet
Woodwind 2: Flute
Woodwind 3: Flute/Clarinet
Woodwind 4: Bass Clarinet
3 Violins (10 Players Suggested)
Viola (3 Players Suggested)
Cello (3 Players Suggested)
Acoustic Bass (1 Player Suggested)
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Bass Guitar (Electric)
Drum Set
Vocal Key: F