I know, I know, this blog is "The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong," not the wonderful world of Ricky Riccardi, but sometimes everything intertwines so here's an update on what I've been involved in, Pops-wise, over the past seven days. I've been away from blogging, and the computer in general, for about a week and I apologize for that. The ideas are percolating as usual--I want to do blogs on "Someday Sweetheart," "Chloe," 'SOL/Gully Low Blues" and a few more but with the baby and everything, I just can't get started. But soon, very soon, I promise this blog will return to normalcy.
Speaking of baby Ella, dig this photo of my little one in an outfit that was a gift from my pal David Ostwald:
To quote an old high school friend who saw the photo on my Facebook page, "Seriously, Ella has to be the coolest kid on the block." Does she have any other choice?
Anyway, last Thursday night, as advertised, I interviewed All Stars pianist Marty Napoleon at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. It was a beautiful evening as Marty proved to be a human dynamo. His stories were hilarious and his memory absolutely flawless...almost scarily flawless! He remembered months, dates, everything. He's going to be 88 next month and is still playing at the assisted living home he lives in in Glen Cove, Long Island. In July, he is running a three-day jazz fest in that city that will certainly include some of New York's finest jazzmen. The festival will also contain a tribute to Louie, which Marty told me will include a performance of "The Gypsy," the subject of my last entry. I made a big fuss about that 1953 version with Marty on piano, done months before the Decca studio version, but Marty told me they played it quite frequently in the months before he left the band. Who knew? Anyway, I won't go into any more details about that other than to say that it was filmed by the good people at the Museum and should appear in complete form on their website in the near future. I'll keep you posted once I learn more. In the meantime, here's a photo of myself and the unwilling-to-grow-old Marty!
And finally, last night I had a wonderful experience at the opening reception of Jazz at Lincoln Center's newest exhibit, "The Collage Aesthetic of Louis Armstrong: 'In the Cause of Happiness.'"
After the publication of Steven Brower's beautiful book, Satchmo: The Wonderful World and Art of Louis Armstrong, Armstrong's collages have been quite en vogue. Right now the Louis Armstrong House Museum has an exhibit of its own, titled "A Little Story of My Own: Louis Armstrong's Collages." The House Museum--an essential visit if you're even in the vicinity of New York City--is displaying Armstrong's original collages through July 12, a mandatory stop for any Armstrong fans in the New York area.
The same can be said of the gorgeous Jazz at Lincoln Center exhibit. Instead of using the fragile originals, they have lined their walls with beautiful, blown-up versions of the collages, such as this one featuring Armstrong's Ambassador Satch cover photo:
The collages were gorgeous and the constant soundtrack of Armstrong music in the background gave me the chills. So did the stellar lineup of people in the crowd: Dan Morgenstern, Michael Cogswell, Stanley Crouch, Marc Miller, Steven Brower, Jon Szwed, Phil Schaap, Phoebe Jacobs, Robert O'Meally...and on and on and on. I still shake my head in disbelief when I'm surrounded by such company but you can be sure that there was a helluva lot of love for ol' Pops in that room last night. A more photos won't hurt, will they? Here's the eloquent O'Meally addressing the crowd, as Michael Cogswell and a partially hidden Stanley Crouch look on:
Here's Stanley and Mrs. Cogswell as the wall of collages lurks in the background:
Representing the Louis Armstrong House Museum, here's Michael Cogswell again and Lesley Zlabinger (not pictured, but much in attendance was associate director Deslyn Deyer)
I could have kept on taking photos all evening but eventually the Pops conversations struck up and the camera was placed safely away for the remainder of the evening (one thing discussed: Mosaic's Armstrong Decca box set shipped today!). Overall it was a great evening but even without the star-studded crowd, the power and potency of the collages will continue to speak to those who visit the exhibit until it is taken down on September 26. From the official website, "'The Collage Aesthetic of Louis Armstrong: "In the Cause of Happiness' is located in the Peter Jay Sharp Arcade in Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street in New York City. Admission is free and the exhibition is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Monday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m." And here's the link if you'd like to read more about. A fantastic job well done by all involved!
And that was the week that was for me...minus all the diaper changes and 2 a.m. feedings! Anyway, I hear Baby Ella from here so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. I'll be back with something in a few days...til then!