[Dixielandjazz] Satchmo Summerfest

Robert S. Ringwald ringwald at calweb.com
Mon Aug 4 19:27:04 PDT 2003

This written by our good DJML member, Norman Vickers:

> By Norman Vickers
> Louis Armstrong's life and music was celebrated in New Orleans' French
> Quarter last weekend.  The centennial of New Orleans' most famous musician
> and entertainer was celebrated for two years during 2000 and 2001.
> Armstrong always said that he was born on July 4, 1900 and the world
> accepted it as fact.  However, when Gary Giddins was researching for his
> biography of Armstrong, he delegated to Tad Jones, a New Orleans native
> historian, the task of tracking down Louis' actual birth date.  No birth
> certificate was to be found.  Louis' mother was Baptist but his
> was Catholic. Jones sought the baptismal record at the parish church where
> Louis' grandmother was a member and came up with the actual birth
> date-August 4, 1901.
> The French Quarter Festivals group enlisted sponsors and local university
> musical researchers in order to put on a free celebration honoring
> and his contribution to music and entertainment.  During the first Satchmo
> Summerfest in 1901 the New Orleans municipal airport was renamed The Louis
> Armstrong Airport. There were seminars led by music scholars worldwide and
> there were musical celebrations using the best local musicians available.
> The successful format for the Satchmo Summerfest has continued now for the
> third year.
> Seminars featured scholars from England, Sweden, Japan and from major U.
> universities. Writer-musician Peter Gerler explored the warm relationship
> which Armstrong had with a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant family during his
> early years.  Mollyne Karnofsky, a New York artist, and granddaughter of
> couple who hired Louis, was present to give her family recollections.
> Armstrong continued contact with this family all during his life.  George
> Avakian, age 84, told about working for Columbia Records when both
> and Duke Ellington were under contract.  His dream was to have a recording
> session which included both artists.  It was not to come about because of
> both their complex touring schedules.  However, Armstrong did record a
> called "Azalea" which has been written especially for him by Ellington.
>  There were panels of young New Orleans musicians who spoke about
> s continuing influence on their musical performance.  There was a similar
> panel consisting of musician scholars from England, Sweden and Japan.
> musicians had come to New Orleans in order to learn the music first-hand.
> When these foreign-born musicians came to New Orleans it was during the
> early 1960s when there were two musicians' unions, one black and one
> One could choose the union to which he wanted to belong.  Universally,
> chose the black union because those were the musicians with whom they
> play and study.
> Jack Bradley, now of Cape Cod, is curator of movie clips of Armstrong's
> career.  He, incidentally, was one of the two people at the bedside with
> Louis died. Bradley was a friend and would tour with Armstrong. At this
> seminar, Bradley  narrated the movie clips and discussed his close
> observations of Louis.
> There was an art show and  a "Satchmo Club Strut" where patrons for a
> price could gain entrance to participating jazz clubs that evening.
> Three stages for jazz were set up around the Old U. S. Mint, now a museum
> the end of the Quarter on Esplanade and Decatur Streets. Outstanding
> musicians, mostly from New Orleans, performed with their groups.
> known musicians, Ellis Marsalis and Dr. Michael White and his Original
> Liberty Jazz Band, were among the performers.  Also performing was Banu
> Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz.  Interested persons may hear Ms.
> perform with her band when they come in February to perform at the Saenger
> with the Pensacola Symphony Pops.  With special emphasis on the young
> people, there were stages both at the Mint and at Armstrong Park (New
> Orleans Jazz National Historical Park).
> What are the drawbacks, if any?  It's hot and muggy in New Orleans in
> and not the best time for an outdoor festival.  However, the seminars are
> held in the cool, air-conditioned Old U. S. Mint and it's all free!  Plan
> attend next year's Satchmo Summerfest held first weekend in August.
> Website: www.fqfi.org or write French Quarter Festivals, Inc. 400 N.
> St. Ste 205, New Orleans, LA 70130. These are the same nice people who
> been putting on the French Quarter Festival held each year in April for
> past 20 years.
> ________________________________________________________________
> F. Norman Vickers is volunteer executive director of the Jazz Society of
> Pensacola and a former president of the American Federation of Jazz
> Societies.  He is a retired physician and an amateur musician with a
> lifelong interest in jazz.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list