Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gösta Hägglöf's Collection Comes to the Louis Armstrong House Museum!

I started this blog back in July 2007 and wrote for pretty much myself for the first month or so. But finally, on August 30 of that year, I received an e-mail from a very important person, Gösta Hägglöf, the Swedish oracle of all things Armstrong-related and a man I had always admired through his tireless work in running Ambassador Records, a non-profit label devoted to some of Louis's least known works. With that e-mail we were off and running, and traded e-mails almost weekly until Hagglof's health took a turn for the worse at the end of 2008. He passed away in March of 2009 and I immediately composed this
blog about both him and my relationship with him during the final year-and-a-half about his life.

Gus, as I called him, had spent decades of his life giving gifts to Armstrong fans: the Ambassador series, live concerts, projects such as recording Louis's 50 Hot Choruses with Bent Persson, etc. Well, he had one final gift left him: his will dictated that his entire Armstrong collection would move from Sweden to New York and be made available to researchers at the Louis Armstrong House Museum!

If you've been with me long enough to know about my relationship with Gus, you probably know that I am currently the Archivist for the Armstrong House (just celebrated my two-year anniversary last week). This past March, our Director Michael Cogswell and our Museum Manager, Baltsar Beckeld (who conveniently happened to be Swedish), traveled to Sweden to meet with Gus's brother Janne and some of his friends (no strangers to this blog as they're some of the top Armstrong experts in the world....hello Peter, Sven-Olof and Håkan!) and pack up Gus's monumental collection. 45 boxes later, it was put on a ship and sent on a slow boat to Queens. It finally arrived towards the end of the summer and I've spent much time trying to arrange, preserve and catalog all of Gus's records, tapes, CDs, videos, DVDs, photos, papers, discographical information, letters (including letters from Louis) and so much more. Already, I have found things there that are simply mind-blowing. It will all be made available to researchers who can make it out to Queens while details will soon start infiltrating the online catalog of the Louis Armstrong House Museum (which has grown tremendously since we launched it last December....go to start searching!).

But instead of me going on and on about it, I'll, well, still let myself do it, as I want to share video Michael Steinman shot of a 25-minute presentation I gave on the Hagglof Collection a press party back in September. In it, I talk all about Gus's life and share some of the new treasures we've acquired at the House....including part of "Satchmo at Symphony Hall," which Hagglof had in COMPLETE form! Here's part 1:

And part 2:

And here's a link to Michael's blog on the subject.

That's all for now, good friends, I just wanted to keep the world posted that the Louis Armstrong House Museum has acquired another major Armstrong Collection and it's that of an old friend of mine, and this blog's. It will be an honor to work with it, that's for sure. Oh, and I should let you know that we are also selling all of Hagglof's Ambassador CDs, including some of the rarest ones like "At the Cotton Club" and "In Philadelphia" at the Armstrong House....the only place in the world you'll find them! Have you booked your trip to Corona yet?

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