I was very excited to read all the good press surrounding yesterday’s blogpost by Elvis Costello where he urged his fans to buy the ten-CD Louis Armstrong box set, SATCHMO: AMBASSADOR OF JAZZ, instead of his own (overpriced) one.
Hooray for Mister Costello’s candor and love!
But I didn’t own a copy of SATCHMO. And that bothered me. I have some of the music on other sources, but I felt like a hypocrite. How could I urge my readers to get to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, New York, if I wasn’t ready to go there myself, unsheath my trusty credit card, and walk out with a box for myself?
This afternoon I made a Jazz Pilgrimage to the LAHM, and I can report that the Universal Music box is sitting next to me (like a well-trained rectangular puppy) as I write this. I feel richer rather than poorer. That’s the good news.
The less-than-good news is that the LAHM is the only place you can buy the box — it was produced in the United Kingdom in limited quantities, and they bought the remaining stock from the distributor. Today I found out that there are fewer than forty copies for sale. And when they’re gone . . .
So don’t wait for January 2012 to lament that the boxes are no longer available (although I am sure someone is planning to buy a few to sell on eBay at inflated prices). The LAHM opens at 10 AM! Here’s the link to contact them:
Now, what’s in the nifty box seen above? The first seven discs are a comprehensive survey of Louis’s recorded career, from the Creole Jazz Band’s 1923 JUST GONE to two tracks recorded at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival. Then, there’s a seventy-five minute segment from Louis talking with friends Dan Morgenstern and Jack Bradley in 1965, with some assistance from Papa Slivovice. And — courtesy of our very own Ricky Riccardi, there are two discs of material — unissued and alternate takes — no one’s ever heard before, including scorching material from a Hollywood Bowl concert that concludes with a version of WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN that has the All-Stars joined by the Norman Granz JATP troupe; much new material with Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson . . . and on. I have attached Ricky’s marathon blogpost about the set — complete with track listings and explanations — for your dining and dancing pleasure:
And if you can’t get to Corona, can’t afford the set, but love Louis, call the LAHM anyway. They are wonderful people down there, full of ideas on how to make the legacy of Louis continue in soaring shape. (There’s the gala on December 6, and any monetary contribution would come in W.C. Handy.)