Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Louis and Peter Davis on "I've Got a Secret"

Hello loyal readers! Sorry for my absence the last few days, but the move into my new house that I have been talking about for the last couple of months is officially over...well, for the most part. My wife and I spent the last week or so moving as much as humanly possible into the our new digs, including my entire CD collection, which promptly took up four six-foot bookshelves! I alphabetized it for the first time in years, though naturally, my Armstrong CDs, DVDs, videos and books got half a bookcase all by themselves....a shrine, if you will. Tonight is our first official night sleeping over and we still have to sort out the ridiculous amount of clothes that are currently encased in garbage bags so I still don't have time to settle in and write one of my normal, detailed entries, but I had to take a second to post the latest wonderful discovery I found on YouTube (and thanks to all of you who wrote in to alert me about it).

On December 27, 1965, Louis Armstrong appeared on the popular prime-time game show, "I've Got a Secret," hosted by the famed comedian and jazz pianist/songwriter/supporter Steve Allen. Armstrong's secret was he brought along his first cornet AND the 83-year-old man who taught him how to play it at the Waif's Home in New Orleans, Peter Davis. Part one details the panel's attempts to guess Pops's secret and it already has well over 2,000 hits as of this writing:

That's all in good fun but the real meat is in part two of the clip, which somehow only has 140 views as I write this. (Come on, people, you're missing the main event!) The discussion with Davis is fascinating; he clearly remembers Armstrong hitting high C on "Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet." The saddest part of this clip is that Allen announces that Davis hasn't played the cornet in 50 years and has "no chops"--yet they make him play it on national television anyway! He struggles and the results are painful, but Pops lovingly acts as a guide and when Davis finally croaks out a slow version of 'When the Saints Go Marching In," Pops plays along, contributing an absolutely beautiful countermelody. Pops then counts off and plays it as his usual tempo. At this point, all Davis can do is look proud and offer a low harmony note, but Pops wails. Remember, if you read my "70 Years of The Saints" blog from May 13, Armstrong was no longer pushing himself on "The Saints." He began getting tired playing his stand three-chorus ending in 1959 and soon switched to concluding the tune with a vocal. But 1965 was Armstrong's last peak year as a trumpeter and blows very strongly here, playing a hot chromatic up in his second chorus, ending on a high concert Bb and if you listen carefully through the applause, he glisses up to a high Eb at the end! A wonderful moment and here it is, courtesy of YouTube user reflecteddetcelfer:

And that's all from next. Next up, hopefully by this weekend (July 13 is the one-year anniversary of this blog!) will be the long-awaited exploration of the C.D. reissue of the Fleischmann Yeast Broadcasts. Phil Schaap and Dan Morgenstern each played excerpts of it on the radio this past week and Armstrong fans have written in that they have purchased it at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens so it is out there and it's time to do my part to spread the glory of the most important Armstrong discoveries in year. Til then....back to unpacking!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all great publications here.

I look forward to the article on the Fleischmann's show, especially because I do not know where I can buy the cd in my county.

Today I found the pdf-booklet here:

UWE from Germany

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I waited just a few too many hours before trying to view those videos and they're GONE. I don't know who ordered them taken down and under what justification. Alas, this is an altogether too common problem on YouTube.

Phil Lynch said...

That is one of the nicest things I have ever seen.

Phil Lynch said...

That is one of the nicest things I have ever seen.

Greg Beaman said...

just shows what a gentleman - and a showman - louis was, the way he did exactly what needed to be done to make peter davis look good and to be able to enjoy his moment in the spotlight.