Ricky Ricardi posted this lovely image of a radiantly happy Louis — surrounded by an audience hanging on his every word — on his extraordinary blog, “The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong.” You can find it at www.dippermouth.blogspot.com. It was taken while Louis read and sang “The Three Little Bears” during one of Eddie Condon’s 1949 Floor Shows.
I don’t ordinarily go in for such things, but I would love to have that photograph reproduced on a good-sized coffee mug: looking at Louis making other people so happy would make it easier for me to feel the same way, even when I know that the next thing I have to do is go to work! Thanks, Ricky! (And I am sure that this photograph will appear in his book on Louis’ later years — coming out in 2010!)
But who was Genevieve Naylor? Obviously she was someone in the right place and she clicked her shutter at just the right time. Here’s what I found — alas, from her July 25, 1989 obituary in The New York Times:
Genevieve Naylor, a fashion photographer whose work appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, McCall’s, Cosmopolitan and other magazines, died of heart failure Friday at Dobbs Ferry (N.Y.) Hospital. She was 74 years old and lived in Dobbs Ferry.
Ms. Naylor, a native of Springfield, Mass., studied at the New School in the 1930’s and began her career with The Associated Press.
Photographs she made of life in Brazil on assignment for the State Department were given a one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 and led to her being hired by Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
Ms. Naylor’s late husband was the painter Misha Reznikoff. She is survived by two sons, Peter Reznikoff of Manhattan, and Michael Reznikoff of Tokyo; a sister, Cynthia Gillispie of Chicago, and two granchildren.
And from that obituary, the jazz connection becomes clear. Misha Reznikoff was deeply and happily involved with the Condon crowd — I think he knew Louis as well — and there’s a photograph of him sketching on television while the band is jamming as a feature on the Floor Show. So it would have been a natural thing for his wife to be there with her cameras and lenses . . . and we are so lucky that she was.
P.S., about an hour later: I kept returning to that photo, each time with a lump in my throat. Why does it move me so? Then it hit me. WE are those children. We warm ourselves at the light of Louis every time we see his image, hear him sing, or play, or talk.