Louis Armstrong was (appropriately) born in Louisiana, but his country is everywhere someone is humming a few notes from BLUEBERRY HILL or remembering that his face (in the words of Ida Melrose) radiates “kindness and compassion.”

But perhaps the capital of the land of Louis, the vortex, is in the garden of a brick house in Corona, Queens, where he and Lucille lived for over twenty-five years.   It’s now called the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and it will be the site of jazz concerts and other celebrations this summer: check out http://www.louisarmstronghouse.org. for the good news.

Louis and the neighbors in Corona, celebrating on July 4, 1969

What could be more appropriate than assembling there, among friends, for a Sunday afternoon celebration of Ricky Riccardi’s moving new book, WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD: THE MAGIC OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG’S LATER YEARS? 

Here are three video clips from Ricky’s presentation.  Hide the children: Louis himself utters a naughty word . . . . but with good reason, as the story is one of his being treated in a demeaning way because of the color of his skin.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Thank you, Ricky, for working on that beautiful book and telling us all about it.  Thank you, Louis, for being!

5 responses to “‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN CORONA, QUEENS (June 26, 2011)

  1. Pingback: ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN CORONA, QUEENS (June 26, 2011) | Jazz News

  2. The more I read “It:What A Wonderful World,” and watch video’s like this, the more I realize what a great human being Louis was. I wish more than anything that I could have met this humble, compassionate, man with a God given talent that couldn’t be beat. (Thank you for the reference, NM,..much love)

  3. Thanks for this.

    I would argue that several of his re-recordings in the 50’s for Decca were better and more fully realized than the 20’s originals.

    There is no contradiction between the clown and trickster and entertainer and creation of the highest art. Pops was a living embodiment of this. So was Shakespeare.

    Watch Louis’ eyes move upward when he plays as he demonstrates human being as conduit between heaven and earth.

    Dig it.

  4. Thanks for this post, and thanks, too, to Ricky. I can’t wait to read the book.

    As a side note, I’ve often wondered how much of an impact Louis’ recordings for Norman Granz had on the myth that he had lost the ability to play the trumpet. 1956, the year “Ella and Louis” was released, seems to be an important year in the development of this criticism.

    I am convinced that Granz’s engineers simply dropped the ball when attempting to record such full sounds (like Louis’) in small settings. “Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster” is another prime example. Webster sounds like he has a towel in his bell, and Bean sounds as if he is playing a bass trumpet with a tube sock over the mouthpiece. Meanwhile, Oscar Peterson and the rhythm sound like they are in the room with you…

    Anyway, very much anticipating what is surely a great work!

  5. All of this is true. But I wonder if it isn’t also something larger, the Tyranny of the Audience. We discover a creative individual; (s)he becomes a Beloved Icon, and then we start to insist that the BI does exactly what we want. So the people who wanted Louis to perform new versions of POTATO HEAD BLUES (either as itself or in its spirit) were unsettled and ungenerous when they heard him do PORGY AND BESS or LET’S DO IT; you are free to supply your own examples. I forgive Granz all his excesses because of PRES AND TEDDY (where Wilson’s piano sounds glassy and tinny), BEN WEBSTER WITH STRINGS, and three dozen others, including LOUIS UNDER THE STARS.

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