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Louis Armstrong - News, Notes and Events

4th Annual Satchmo SummerFest:

Details of the 4th Annual Satchmo SummerFest have been announced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc. The fest -- featuring live music, seminars, food, exhibits, and more -- is set for August 4 - 8, 2004 in New Orleans. Scheduled performers include Ellis Marsalis, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Troy Andrews & Orleans Avenue, Jeremy Davenport, Maurice Brown, Connie Jones, Kermit Ruffins, New Orleans Ladies (Wanda Rouzan, Leah Chase, Stephanie Jordan, Betty Shirley, Sharon Martin), and many more. Visit the Satchmo SummerFest web site for complete details.

New Armstrong Book Set For 2005 Release:

Dr. Thomas Brothers is planning to publish a second book on "Satchmo"; his first effort on "Pops", "Louis Armstrong In His Own Words", was published in 1999; Brothers, an Associate Professor of Music at Duke University, is currently at work on the new book, "Louis Armstrong's New Orleans"; the book should be completed circa May, 2004, and it is due to hit store shelves in early 2005.

"Louis Armstrong: The Offstage Story of Satchmo":

Collector's Press will release the new book "Louis Armstrong: The Offstage Story of Satchmo" in October, 2003; the book, by Louis Armstrong House & Archives director Michael Cogswell, offers an intimate, backstage look at the legendary trumpeter through never-before-published photos, writings, and recordings; the book is being released in conjunction with the opening of the Louis Armstrong House (see below).

Louis Armstrong House Opens To Public:

Louis Armstrong's home in Corona, Queens (New York) will be open for public tours begining October 16, 2003; the house, where Armstrong resided from 1943 until passing away in 1971, recently underwent a $1.6 million renovation; see the press release for full details.

Louis Armstrong Statue Unveiled at "Jazz Walk of Fame" in New Orleans:

The Robert E. Nims Jazz Walk of Fame on Algiers Point in New Orleans was officially opened on August 25, 2003 in ceremonies that included the unveiling of a Louis Armstrong statue at the Algiers Ferry landing; the riverfront walk, which features 60 lamp posts honoring late jazz musicians (including Satchmo), extends from the ferry landing to Mardi Gras World; each lamp has photos of the artist and you can push a button to hear an audio segment (bio and music) on the artist; only a handful of the interactive lamps are currently operational, but more will be activated over the next few months; visitors to New Orleans can reach the "Jazz Walk" by taking the free Algiers Ferry, located at Canal Street and the Mississippi River.

Satchmo Film Bio:

Sean Patrick Thomas ("Barbershop"; "Save The Last Dance") will portray jazz legend Louis Armstrong in a new film titled "Saint Louis Blues"; the biopic, set in New Orleans during the early 1900's, will follow Armstrong's poor upbringing and his eventual rise to American icon and one of the world's greatest musical influences. Paige Cameron wrote the screenplay and will direct the film. Grammy-winning songwriter David Foster ("Moulin Rouge") will produce the film's soundtrack. The film is scheduled for release in 2004.

3rd annual Satchmo SummerFest:

The 3rd annual Satchmo SummerFest is scheduled to run from July 31 - August 4, 2003. The 5 day event will include free jazz performances on 4 stages, local cuisine, seminars, children's activities, art exhibits, a "Satchmo Club Strut," an evening concert, a Jazz Mass and second-line parade, plus tours of Armstrong's neighborhood. The prelim line-up of performers includes Ellis Marsalis, Chris Clifton, Connie Jones, Kermit Ruffins, Michael White, Wendell Brunious, Leroy Jones, Troy Andrews, Shannon Powell, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, ReBirth Brass Band, Paulin Brothers Brass Band and the Treme Brass Band.

Satchmo Trumpet Acquired by Hard Rock Cafe:

The Hard Rock Cafe in New Orleans has acquired a trumpet played by Louis Armstrong in New Orleans. The instrument is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe's "Satchmo Room", a museum featuring a large collection of New Orleans blues and jazz memorabilia. The room is open to the public, and is free of charge. Contact the Hard Rock at (504) 529-5617 for more info.

Pops Preserved:

Louis Armstrong's "Hot Five and Hot Seven" recordings (1925-1928) were among the first 50 items designated for preservation by the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

Arvell Shaw Passes Away:

Arvell Shaw, long-time bassist with Louis Armstrong's All Stars band, passed away on December 5, 2002 in Manhattan at age 79; Shaw joined Satchmo's big band in 1945, and was one of the few musicians Pops kept on when he moved to the smaller All Stars band format; Shaw played off and on with the All Stars until Armstrong's passing in 1971; he appeared in several movies with Armstrong, most notably 1954's "The Glenn Miller Story" and 1956's "High Society"; he also performed with Benny Goodman, Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins and many others. Since the 1980s, Shaw had led the Arvell Shaw and Louis Armstrong Legacy Band, performing around the country.

Brits Still Love Louis:

Louis Armstrong's classic "What A Wonderful World" was among the Top 100 hits in a poll marking the 50th anniversary of the UK charts; the tune, which was ranked 49th, was #1 in the United Kingdom for 4 weeks in 1968; see the UK Charts web site for more info.

Props to Pops:

The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center will pay tribute to Louis Armstrong as part of their American Music Festival 2003 series; events include the cabaret musical "Satchmo: The Life and Times of Louis Armstrong" (running from January 28 to April 19, 2003) and "Louis Armstrong, American Luminary", an exploration of Satchmo's life (taking place on February 24, 2003).

Tony & k.d. Salute Satchmo:

Crooners Tony Bennett and k.d. lang are set to release "A Wonderful World", an album of duets inspired by Louis Armstrong, on November 5, 2002; tracks include "That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)", "La Vie En Rose", "A Kiss to Build a Dream On", and "What a Wonderful World".

New Music:

Fuel 200 Records released Louis Armstrong & The Allstars "Satchmo Plays King Oliver" on October 1, 2002; the album is Pops' tribute to his mentor, King Oliver; the tracks were laid down in September and October of 1959 (with Trummy Young, Billy Kyle, Mort Herbert, Danny Barcelona and Peanuts Hucko) at Radio Recorders Studio in Hollywood; this digitally remastered CD contains the entire session, including alternate takes (24 total tracks).

Satchmo SummerFest Returns:

New Orleans - the birthplace of jazz - continues to commemorate native son and "International Ambassador of Jazz" Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, one year after an unforgettable centennial celebration, with the second annual "Satchmo SummerFest", from August 1-4, 2002. Taking place in and around the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint at 400 Esplanade Avenue in the French Quarter, the event will pay tribute to Armstrong's memorable career with an expanded free music and food festival, intimate seminars and informative discussions, children's activities, a club crawl, art and photo exhibits, a jazz mass, second-line parade and much more. Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco predicts, "The festivities surrounding the Satchmo SummerFest will be much like the musician himself - original, dynamic and always entertaining."

Armstrong's Birthday Celebrated:

The Black Men of Labor, Pop Agee Johnson and The New Orleans Jazz Legacy Foundation hosted a birthday celebration for Satchmo on July 4, 2002 at the historic Eagle Saloon (at South Rampart and Perdido). Festivities included a giant birthday cake, a performance of "Happy Birthday" by trumpeter Greg Stafford and members of the Treme Brass Band and the Storyville Stompers, and a brief "second line" parade. Throughout his life, Armstrong chose to celebrate his birthday on July 4th. To keep Pops' tradition alive, the organizers of "Satchmo in July" are planting the seed for an annual event to kick off a month long birthday celebration, culminating on his documented birth date of August 4.

Satchmo's Cornet in Smithsonian:

Louis Armstrong's first cornet went on display at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History on April 1, 2002; the battered horn, which Louis received while at the Colored Waif's Home in New Orleans, was formerly on display at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint; the cornet was auctioned by Sothebys last October, where it fetched a whopping $108,000; Jazz great Branford Marsalis was on hand at the Smithsonian on Thursday (03/28/2002), helping to kick off their first ever Jazz Appreciation Month.

Pops Goes Punk:

A cover of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" was the first single release from late punk rock legend Joey Ramone's solo album, "Don't Worry About Me"; the single hit radio stations in January and the album was released on February 19, 2002; Ramone passed away in April 2001 following a long battle with lymphatic cancer.

Satchmo on VH1:

Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Little Richard and Branford Marsalis were among the 70 music artists featured in VH1's five part series "Say It Loud! A Celebration Of Black Music In America", which premiered on the music channel on Oct. 7, 2001; check RockOnTV.com for repeats of the series.

Nightline Broadcasts Armstrong Diaries:

ABC's "Nightline" aired excerpts from recently discovered audio diaries of New Orleans jazz legend Louis Armstrong; the special edition of Nightline aired on Friday, August 17, 2001. Transcripts of the show can be ordered from ABC.

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"Armstrong's improvisational verve and technical virtuosity defined jazz ... and his engaging personality and ever-present grin made him a natural as the international ambassador of jazz, America's greatest gift to the world." ~ Life Magazine ~ The 100 People Who Made The Millenium