Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, Indiana Beach 1961 - Silent Footage!

Well, here was a pleasant surprise to start my morning: a four-minute YouTube video featuring footage of Louis and the All Stars at Indiana Beach in Monticello, Indiana on August 18, 1961! Yes, the footage is silent, but it's almost more striking that way; he still communicates that's for sure (and it's always striking to see the serious Pops, isn't it?).

The movies were taken by Ted Swanson. The opening title card on the video gets most of it right: besides Louis, there's Joe Darensboug on clarinet (no "h"), Trummy Young on trombone, Billy Kyle on piano, Danny Barcelona on drums and Jewel Brown on vocals. The only wrong name is Mort Herbert, listed as playing bass; that is Irving Manning in the video. It's not their fault as Manning had just joined the band and Herbert was probably still listed in the program. (Darensbourg and Brown had also joined the previous month.)


Here's some more information from the site where I found this gem: "'I’m pretty lucky to have that opportunity to hear and meet Louis Armstrong,' Ruth Davis said. 'People really loved his music and showed up for Louis Armstrong.' Davis said Armstrong and his band were among the more popular acts of the 1950s. As a girl, Davis remembered seeing Armstrong’s band members sleeping on the ballroom benches after a long bus ride. She also recalled a Monticello restaurant opening just for Armstrong and his band after a late-night gig. When Armstrong was touring, racial tensions were often high, but they did not seem to affect his show. 'There were some racial issues also, but I thought for the most part people liked him and the band,' Davis recalled."


Sleeping on ballroom benches? A tough scuffle, indeed....


Anyway, here's the footage. Angela Cox did a great job editing it together. Perhaps afraid to use Armstrong's original music, the sound track is a two-fisted solo piano version of "Back Home Again in Indiana" by David Drazin. It's very good but of course, when it comes to Pops and "Indiana," there's no shortage of choices. Thus, if you really want to get into the spirit, mute the YouTube video and play this version of "Indiana" from the All Stars at Newport in 1962, the same band except with Billy Cronk on bass instead of Manning, who didn't last long enough to play "Indiana" in front of a recording device.





Thanks to everyone who helped unearth this gem and make it public!

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