2015 Satchmo Symposium
FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2015
Noon Keynote Conversation: Musical First Responders – On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures that threatened to drown our city, Satchmo SummerFest remembers and honors those who worked tirelessly to help rebuild the irreplaceable infrastructure that supports New Orleans music – those who comforted, gave housing, replaced instruments, and supplied the practical necessities that gave the music a chance to return. A panel of representatives of these musical first responders – including Jordan Hirsch, Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Robert Lyall, and Reid Wick – will discuss what we have learned in the decade since the flood with moderator Fred Kasten.
1:30 pm Satchmo: His Life in New Orleans Louis Armstrong left a remarkable material legacy, having reflected upon his singular life in manuscripts, home recordings, snapshots, and further treasures now preserved in the archives of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York. In collaboration with the Louisiana State Museum, a carefully curated selection of materials will be on display in New Orleans for the first time, opening in tandem with Satchmo SummerFest. Archives Assistant and co-curator Brynn White will discuss highlights of the exhibition “Satchmo: His Life in New Orleans,” and the challenges and revelations in drawing a story from Armstrong’s complicated and deeply felt relationship with his hometown.
2:30 pm The Morality and Righteous Heart of Louis Armstrong Writer Mick Carlon, author of Travels With Louis, Riding on Duke’s Train, and (forthcoming in November) Girl Singer, will discuss the righteous life of Louis Armstrong. “We always hear about great artists who in their private lives were selfish and self-promoting,” says Carlon. “On the contrary, Louis Armstrong led a life of generosity, humor, and true humility. He knew his worth as an artist and as a man, but it never led Pops to being pretentious.”
3:30 pm Risky Louis Award-winning music writer John Swenson presents a portrait of Louis Armstrong as a young man who was as cutting edge as the most controversial hip hoppers of today’s popular music. Armstrong is rightfully thought of as “Ambassador Louis,” the avuncular figure who was loved throughout the world for his consistently great performances, winning smile, and the nostalgic glory of “Hello Dolly.” But as a young man Armstrong’s world was loaded with sex, drugs, and occasional threats of violence. And it’s all on the records.
4:30 pm Distinct and Original Voices: Louis & Bix For years a rift between various camps of classic jazz fans has existed, pitting followers of Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke in unnecessary conflict. In this presentation, trombonist, two-time Grammy nominated writer, and Library of Congress National Jukebox curator, David Sager, will address this clash of opinions. Mr. Sager’s frank discussion will focus on musical ingredients found in the recorded work of these two inspiring creators of classic jazz cornet and trumpet styles.
5:30 pm Cinematic Satch: Louis Armstrong on the David Frost Show Between February 1970 and January 1971, Louis Armstrong made multiple appearances on The David Frost Show. Armstrong’s biographer Ricky Riccardi will show highlights of these very rare appearances, which have not been available since their original air date. Armstrong talks at length about New Orleans, sings favorites like “Cabaret,” “Moon River” and “Mack the Knife,” does a duet with Bing Crosby and even talks Swiss Kriss with guest host Orson Welles!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2015
11:30 am Louis Lets ‘Em Have It Multiple Grammy-winning writer Dan Morgenstern looks back at Louis Armstrong’s birthday performance at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, where he was asked to appear unrehearsed with a bunch of former associates, and the proverbial straw that caused him to erupt in anger, showing a rare side of the man. But the media gave him his lumps, as they would later that year when he lashed out against racism in Little Rock.
12:30 pm Satchmo the Singer Part 2 Singer/pianist Daryl Sherman concludes her exploration of Louis Armstrong the singer and his importance to American Popular Song. With recordings and live examples, she’ll discuss lyrics, melodic line and phrasing to show how Louis made them his own. Satchmo crossed over and outside the box with songs from Broadway, film, and pop songs and brought out the best in them.
1:30 pm Suburban Gardens: The Checkered Past of Louis Armstrong’s 1931 ‘Home Away from Home’ Suburban Gardens is famous as the site of Louis Armstrong’s extended engagement during his first return trip to New Orleans in 1931. It was an eventful but sometimes troublesome gig. Yet this nightclub was a location where trouble was routine, because it had for decades been the headquarters of an elusive gambler, bootlegger, smuggler, and real estate speculator named Mark Boasberg, who everybody knew as Jack Sheehan. This presentation by jazz historian and author Bruce Boyd Raeburn recounts the rise and fall of Jack Sheehan and provides context for the anomalous situation that Armstrong found himself in during the summer of 1931.
2:30 pm A Jewel in the 60s All-Stars For most of the 1960s, singer Jewel Brown traveled the world making great music with Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars. In the early 70s she retired from the music business and returned to her hometown of Houston to help care for her ailing parents. In recent years she has returned to performing, now often working with the New Orleans based Heritage Hall Jazz Band. Jewel Brown looks back on her fascinating career and years with Satchmo with interviewer Fred Kasten.
3:30 pm ‘King Zulu’: Collages by Louis Armstrong, Romare Bearden, & Jean-Michel Basquiat This talk by Robert O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor at Columbia University and Director of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies, will focus on a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called “King Zulu” as well as on collages featuring Armstrong as King Zulu by Romare Bearden and by Armstrong himself. Without forgetting the complex meanings of New Orleans’ own celebrated Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, which named Armstrong King in 1949, this talk will consider the masked-face Satchmo in relation to the extravagantly masked Ghanaian court-jester who was part of the welcoming party when Armstrong visited West Africa in 1956. “Maan, you remind me of New Orleans!” the trumpet genius said.
4:30 pm Cinematic Satch: Louis Armstrong in East Berlin – The First Set
On March 22, 1965, Louis Armstrong and His All Stars performed a brilliant concert at the East Berlin Friedrichspalast during Satchmo’s first tour behind the Iron Curtain. The entire evening was filmed, making it the only surviving complete two-set All Stars concert. Louis Armstrong House Museum’s resident “Satchologist,” Ricky Riccardi, will put the concert into context and screen the first set, featuring a multi-encore version of “Hello, Dolly,” some searing trumpet on “Indiana” and a version of “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue” that is one of the undisputed highlights of the trumpeter’s career.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 2, 2015
11:30 am Armstrong’s New Orleans: Then and Now Writer and radio documentary producer David Kunian discusses and illustrates with photos the places that were important in Armstrong’s early and later days in New Orleans, as well as what they are like present-day. He’ll delve into the significance of the locations and underscore the checkered record of New Orleans jazz historic preservation, including its highlights and pitfalls.
12:30 pm The Baritone Sax and Grammy-Winning Wax Baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis is best known as the backbone of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s frontline. His history in New Orleans music runs deep, from his work as an R&B player (he was a member of one of Irma Thomas’s early backing bands in the 1960s), to his long tenure with Fats Domino, to his work as a pure jazz player with the New Orleans Saxophone Quartet. He has been recognized in the Downbeat Critics Poll, but many remain unaware of the full scope of his talent. He’ll be interviewed by Grammy-winning producer Scott Billington, who has produced five of the Dirty Dozen’s albums over a 25-year period, on topics including the scene around the Dew Drop Inn, the “underground” modern jazz scene in New Orleans, and the influence of Louis Armstrong on all New Orleans music.
1:30 pm Got A Bran’ New Suit: The Making and Music of THE COMPLETE LOUIS ARMSTRONG DECCA SESSIONS (1935-46) on Mosaic Records Record producer Scott Wenzel gives an in-depth presentation of what went into the production of this 7 CD set which focuses on Armstrong’s career during the Swing Era; a period that saw him rise to become a pop icon and international star. This important and sometimes neglected decade of Armstrong’s genius is examined by Ricky Riccardi and Dan Morgenstern (who wrote the liners for this set which garnered him yet another Grammy for Best Album Notes in 2010) while Wenzel talks about the rescue mission involved in transferring the original recordings.
2:30 pm Satchmo vs Sidney: The Inside Story of Their Musical “Battles” Outstanding New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher breaks down what’s going on musically when Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet challenged each other on the bandstand.
3:30 pm Louis Armstrong and Kids Louis Armstrong adored kids and they adored him. Louis was married four times but his marriages never produced any children. He was especially fond of the children on his block and neighbors still recall how children would greet the band bus when Louis returned home from a tour. Michael Cogswell, Executive Director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City, has combed through the museum’s monumental archives to bring photographs, home-recorded tapes, fan letters from children, paintings, videos, and more. This is a presentation that will make you laugh and smile!
4:30 pm Cinematic Satch: Louis Armstrong in East Berlin The Second Set Ricky Riccardi closes out the 2015 Satchmo Summerfest with the continuation of Louis Armstrong’s 1965 East Berlin concert, featuring Tyree Glenn, Eddie Shu, Billy Kyle, Arvell Shaw, Danny Barcelona and Jewel Brown. Armstrong contributes fantastic trumpet work on numbers like “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” and “Royal Garden Blues,” plays old favorites such as “Blueberry Hill” and “Mack the Knife” and receives a touching ovation at the conclusion that must be seen to be believed. The closest we’ll ever get to feeling what it was like to see Louis Armstrong in concert!