Satchmo Symposium

Click here to download the Symposium program done in partnership with Louisiana Cultural Vistas.
Friday – August 5, 2016

12 noon Keynote Presentation – Gary Giddins
Pops and Bing: A Real Mutual Admiration Society – Award-winning journalist, author and biographer of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, Gary Giddins, explores the long friendship and mutual regard between Crosby and Armstrong from 1926 when they met – to Pops’ death in 1971 – illustrating their relationship with film clips and photographs. Giddins will focus on Armstrong’s influence on Crosby and vice versa – and the way that cross-influence thrust jazz into the mainstream of popular song. He’ll also discuss their mutually expansive approach to repertory, and the way each of them returned to small-band jazz in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

1:30 pm – Paul Kahn
Louis/Luis: Louis Armstrong and Luis Russell, Musical Pals – Jazz historian Paul Kahn will explore the story of Louis and Luis and their parallel journeys from New Orleans to Chicago to New York City, rising together in the jazz world through touring, radio, recording, and Hollywood. Pianist, composer, arranger, and orchestra leader Luis Russell arrived in New Orleans from Panama in October 1921. Like Armstrong, Russell moved to Chicago. Both worked with King Oliver at different periods in the 1920s. Russell moved to New York City in 1927, where he formed The Luis Russell Orchestra, one of the leading orchestras in Harlem. Armstrong took over the orchestra in 1935 and turned it into one of the most dominant big bands of the Swing Era, working with Russell as musical director until 1943. Kahn will use rare photographs, correspondence, documents, and home movies from Luis Russell’s personal archive to trace the friendship and successes of the two jazz greats.

2:30 pm – Catherine Russell
From Satchmo’s Knee to a Grammy: A Conversation with Catherine RussellGrammy award-winning singer and bandleader Catherine Russell grew up in New York City, the daughter of musical royalty: her father was pianist, bandleader and longtime Louis Armstrong musical director Luis Russell. Her mother, Carline Ray, was an acclaimed artist who performed with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Ruth Brown among others. Catherine, who met Louis Armstrong when she was very young, has toured the world as a backup singer with such top artists as David Bowie, Jackson Browne and Cyndi Lauper – and over the last 10 years has released five critically-acclaimed CDs as a solo artist and bandleader. She’ll talk about her musical heritage and wide-ranging career with interviewer Fred Kasten.

3:30 pm – Maxine Gordon
Blow Brother Dexter: Louis Armstrong Likes What He Hears, 1944 – The year is 1944. In an after-hours club in Los Angeles, Louis Armstrong has some words for a young 21-year-old Dexter Gordon: “Son, say son, I liked the sound you get.” Fresh off the road from his first gig out of high school with the Lionel Hampton Band, Dexter Gordon went to work for Louis and never forgot that moment – nor his time in the Armstrong band. The band made two movies in Hollywood, Pillow to Post and Atlantic City, then went on the road for six months. Maxine Gordon will show clips from these films, share stories about Armstrong’s influence on Dexter and also play recordings of the Armstrong band featuring Dexter Gordon.

4:30 pm – Ricky Riccardi
Rare Treasures from the Ed Sullivan Show – Part 1 – Since last year’s Satchmo Summerfest, Louis Armstrong House Museum Director of Research Collections Ricky Riccardi has helped the Armstrong House acquire every single surviving appearance made by Louis Armstrong on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950s and 1960s. Riccardi will screen some of these gems, including a rare duet with opera star Robert Merrill that must be seen to be believed!

Saturday – August 6, 2016

11:30 am – Scott Wenzel, Ricky Riccardi, and Rich Noorigian
A Born Genius: The Partnership of Big Sid Catlett and Louis Armstrong – Louis Armstrong loved the drumming of Big Sid Catlett, calling him “the greatest drummer that ever picked up a pair of sticks.” Catlett spent many years with both Armstrong’s big band and his small combo, the All Stars, leaving behind numerous examples of one of the great partnerships in jazz. That partnership is best illustrated on two Mosaic Records boxed sets, The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions, 1935-46, and Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, 1947-1958. Mosaic Records Scott Wenzel and Louis Armstrong House’s Ricky Riccardi, along with drummer Rich Noorigian, will discuss some of Armstrong and Catlett’s greatest recorded moments and share gems from those two-boxed sets.

12:30 pm – David Ostwald
How Louis Armstrong Revolutionized Popular Music- Bandleader David Ostwald will compare how popular songs were presented before and after Louis got hold of them to argue that beyond a shadow of a doubt, Armstrong changed the face of popular music forever. After him, artists sounded like themselves, not like they were putting on an act, and a wide range of superstars — from Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald to Eric Clapton and Elvis Costello – emerged from his influence.

1:30 pm – John Broven
Fats Domino Meets Satchmo – In 1956, the Louis Armstrong 1949 hit “Blueberry Hill” gave Fats Domino his signature song and led to him become another international ambassador of New Orleans music. Here music historian John Broven, author of Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans, delves into Domino’s records in the R&B and rock ’n’ roll eras to explore more songs drawn by Fats and his red-hot trumpet playing producer, Dave Bartholomew, from Satchmo’s vast repertoire.

2:30 pm – Bruce Raeburn and Björn Bärnheim
When Louis Came Home: Björn Bärnheim in Conversation with Bruce Raeburn – In recent years, longstanding Swedish jazz enthusiast and researcher Björn Bärnheim has been investigating the circumstances leading to Louis Armstrong’s return visits to his hometown of New Orleans and closely tracking his activities here. The results challenge long-held assumptions and misinformation in the historical literature and provide new insight into Armstrong’s often complex world. Bruce Raeburn will facilitate discussion of Bärnheim’s findings.

3:30 pm – Michael Cogswell
Louis and the Good Book – When asked about his religious affiliation, Louis Armstrong is said to have replied, “Well, I was born a Baptist, wear a Star of David around my neck, and am good friends with the Pope!” In this multimedia presentation, Michael Cogswell, Executive Director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City, explores spirituality and religion in the life of Louis Armstrong. This presentation is guaranteed to make you smile.

4:30 pm – Krin Gabbard
Satchmo, Mingus, and the Performer’s Choice- Krin Gabbard, author of Better Git It in Your Soul, the new biography of Charles Mingus, will discuss Mingus and performance. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, Charles Mingus was surely aware of Louis Armstrong and his crowd-pleasing behavior on stage. Many jazz performers of Mingus’s generation, most notably Miles Davis, went to the opposite extreme and appeared to hold the audience in contempt. Mingus, by contrast, tried to reason with his audience, often lecturing them but also finding ways of entertaining them without compromising his own convictions. Having played in bands led by both Armstrong and Lionel Hampton, Mingus understood the choices faced by Armstrong as a performer.

5:30 pm – Video Pops with Ricky Riccardi
Rare Treasures from the Ed Sullivan Show – Part 2 – Ricky Riccardi, author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years, returns with more jewels from The Ed Sullivan Show, showcasing performances of Louis Armstrong and His All Stars not seen since they were originally broadcast- including a rare 1961 episode featuring the great Duke Ellington and Louis together!

Sunday – August 7, 2016

11:30 am – Matt Sakakeeny
Inner Voices, Outer Sounds: Louis Armstrong’s Methods for Exteriorizing the Interior – Renowned as a trumpeter who singlehandedly changed the course of musical history, Armstrong was also a masterful singer, a gregarious speaker, a prolific writer, an incessant home recordist, and an avid artist of collages. In short, Armstrong was a virtuoso at expressing his inner thoughts via speech and song, trumpet and typewriter, reel-to-reel recorder and canvas. In cataloguing these numerous “outputs,” Tulane music professor Sakakeeny will discuss that despite his situation, a black American born under Jim Crow, Armstrong used a range of mediums to construct a revolutionary voice that challenged racist laws and dominant ideologies.

12:30 pm – Robert O’Meally
From Louis To Lester Bowie: Armstrong and the Avant-Garde – In his talk, Robert O’Meally takes seriously the avant-garde trumpet player Lester Bowie’s assertion that Armstrong was a “true revolutionary” in music- one whose band young Bowie dreamed someday to join. Emphasizing Armstrong as life-long experimental artist- with his horn and with his voice—O’Meally asserts an Armstrong continuum that includes late twentieth century jazz modernists through the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and beyond. This session will swing the music from Louis to Lester Bowie to today!

1:30 pm – Pulitzer Panel with Victor Goines, Dan Morgenstern, Bruce Raeburn, and James Karst
From New Orleans to the World Stage: The Artistic Journeys of Louis Armstrong and Wynton Marsalis – Saxophonist, educator and longtime colleague of Wynton Marsalis Victor Goines joins music historian Bruce Raeburn, award winning jazz journalist Dan Morgenstern and moderator James Karst (NOLA Media Group) for a free-wheeling discussion and comparison of the outlooks, approaches, accomplishments and outputs of two of the most prominent sons of New Orleans – and the ways that Louis Armstrong’s life, legacy and music have influenced Pulitzer Prize-winning Wynton Marsalis. This special panel was developed in partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative.

2:30 pm – Dan Morgenstern
Louis’ Last Year – In 1970, DownBeat editor Dan Morgenstern devoted an entire issue of the publication to Armstrong’s 70th birthday. Armstrong was thrilled, saying the magazine “knocked me flat.” This presentation will celebrate the highlights of Louis’ final year (he died in 1971) and contrast the reactions to his death in New Orleans and New York.

3:30 pm – Mick Carlon
A Conversation with Jack Bradley – In late 1958, former Merchant Marine Jack Bradley moved to New York City with a suitcase and his trusty camera. Through a girlfriend, Jack soon found himself a member of the inner circle of his idol, Louis Armstrong. Over the next fourteen years, Jack was one of Pops’ most trusted friends as well as the “photo-taker” of some of the most beautifully candid photographs ever taken of the legendary performer. A long-time favorite at Satchmo Summerfest, Jack, now 82 and retired on Cape Cod, sat down for a wide-ranging interview with author Mick Carlon (Travels with Louis) about his deep friendship with the man the world knew as “Satchmo.”

4:30 pm – Video Pops with Ricky Riccardi
Louis Armstrong on the Dick Cavett Show – Louis Armstrong made three appearances on The Dick Cavett Show in a 13-month stretch from January 1970 to February 1971. Satchmo Summerfest favorite Ricky Riccardi closes out this year’s symposium by sharing the audio of one performance and the complete videos of appearances in July 1970 and February 1971. The poignant 1971 appearance is the last surviving footage of Armstrong on television, including some of the last glimpses of Armstrong playing the trumpet. A fun, hilarious, and sentimental way to end the 2016 Satchmo Summerfest!

Opening Reception

Join us in celebrating the opening night of Satchmo SummerFest on August 4! The evening begins with a special concert (sponsored by Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant) at Le Petit Theatre: Tom McDermott performs ‘Satchmo from the 1920s to the 1960s’, followed by a second line to the opening night reception at the historic Omni Royal Orleans.

Pops' Playhouse for Kids

Pops’ Playhouse returns for two full days of family fun inside the air-conditioned Louisiana State Museum!

Louis Armstrong Concert Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

On Thursday, August 4th, Satchmo SummerFest will kick-off with a fundraiser to benefit FQFI. Tom McDermott will perform a special set of Louis Armstrong’s music, Satchmo from the 1920s to the 1960s, at Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, one of the oldest community theaters in the country. The performance is sponsored by Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant. Click here for tickets.

Satchmo: His Life in New Orleans

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He headed to Chicago to change the world of music forever on August 8, 1922. In those 21 years, Armstrong absorbed key life lessons. From the time he left in 1922 until his death in 1971, rarely a day went by where Armstrong didn’t spend part of it talking about his hometown. Don’t miss this unique exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint! A collaboration between the Louisiana State Museum and Louis Armstrong House Museum, Satchmo: His Life in New Orleans tells the story of Armstrong’s relationship to his birthplace.

Jazz Mass and Second Line Parade

On Sunday, August 7th, celebrate the annual Jazz Mass – a unique Sunday morning ministry at the church of Sidney Bechet. Located at 1210 Governor Nicholls Street, in the historic Treme neighborhood. Seating is limited. At 11:30, following mass, join the ‘Satchmo Salute’ Second Line Parade. A New Orleans cultural tradition, this very special second line proceeds to Satchmo SummerFest. Parade route: St. Augustine Catholic Church to Rampart. Left on Rampart, right on Esplanade, right on Decatur to Jackson Square.