Tag Archives: Uwe Zanisch

CINEMA STUDIES: LOUIS, SEPT. 30, 1938: HEARST METROTONE NEWS

Uwe Zanisch, whose blog SATCHMOTUBE (satchmotube) chronicles the appearances of Louis Armstrong on television and film, let me know about this marvel — three minutes of amazement.

But the real Onlie Begetter is the jazz-on-film scholar Franz Hoffmann, who specializes in Red Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, and their friends: his YouTube channel can be found here.

What’s all this about?  I will let Franz explain — but how about live sound footage of Louis and his big band playing a dance in 1938?  Intriguing?

8/9/30 poss. Baton Rouge, Old Fellows Temple for white public – Hearst Metrotone News, LOUIS ARMSTRONG (t, v) & HIS ORCH.: Shelton Hemphill, Otis Johnson, Red Allen (t) Wilbur DeParis, George Washington, J.C.Higginbotham (tb) Albert Nicholas (cl, ts) Rupert Cole, Charlie Holmes (cl,as) Bingie Madison (cl, ts) Luis Russell (p) Lee Blair (g) Pops Foster (b) Paul Barbarin (d) 2:56 MEDLEY: SKELETON IN THE CLOSET – SWING THAT MUSIC – CONFESSIN´

My late friend Dr.Klaus Stratemann wrote in his Louis Armstrong-film book (pages 93-94): parts of this footage with the first two tracks originally came to the attention of Armstrong enthusiasts in a 1969 documentary by Francois Rossif (“Why America”). In 1971, another clip of “The Skeleton…” was used in an Armstrong TV-obituary, with dubbed over narration….

Charlie Holmes denied a suggested Oct. 16th New Orleans location where they played for a larger auditorium. Possibly the Hearst team had come with Armstrong from L.A. who joined at 9/30/38 Baton Rouge where the played the first eve for white publicity and dancers.  I separated several very short silent reed-section clips out of a 1999 BBC-Armstrong documentation, which used probably a longer very clean David Chertok´s Armstrong-footage and mixed them with the below known Medley with new syncrone sound from recorded “Swing That Music” -100% identical with the known MEDLEY sound. Who owns the original complete reel now?  The Hearst News Team filmed in general without soundtrack and remixed that.  Rather mysterious is the black male dancer among the other white dancers — either also a fake mixed in or it suggests another location than on the Octorber-tour in the US-Southern States. (Franz Hoffmann — Red Allen Bio Disco in four parts on pdf-files with chapter-5: Louis Armstrong “Day By Day 1937-1940”).

I confess to being less the scholar than Professor Hoffmann.  I don’t worry about the particular date in 1938.  I am simply enthralled.  This is marvelous stuff.  And when Louis kisses his “little Selmer trumpet” so sweetly . . . we would kiss him if he were alive in person to recieve it.  SWING THAT MUSIC, indeed!

YOUNG MISTER TOUGH: LOOK CLOSELY

My dear friend Uwe Zanisch is a generous fellow, as his website SATCHMOTUBE proves — on it he collects television appearances of Louis Armstrong, some of them never seen before.

But this post, for a change, isn’t about Mister Strong.

It’s about the New Yorkers — the “New Yorkers Tanzorchester” made up of hot players including George Carhart and Danny Polo and one other, who made some wonderful Goldkette-inflected records in Berlin in late 1927 / early 1928.  Here’s the label of one of the more incendiary sides, OSTRICH WALK:

And something even better — although how many of us have seen a picture of that 78?  Here’s a formal portrait of the band, with young David Tough to the right. 

As a typical Twenties band portrait, it is oddly diffuse: the young men in their tuxedoes look as if they did not know one another, as if their clothing fit very poorly.  Three of them are gazing off to the left — two skeptically, one far away; one stares challengingly, coldly at the camera; one takes its measure.  And then there’s Mister Tough — not even identified by name in the Bear Family booklet from which this picture comes (thanks to Uwe!). 

His hair threatens to explode from its pomaded state; his light eyes are both searching and even suspicious.  Do we read into this face the one that William P. Gottlieb captured in the basement of the Greenwich Village club — amused, mournful, rueful, trapped?  When we see two pictures, two decades apart, we might play the game of IS IT THE SAME PERSON — but all we know of him is the lovely singular music he had in front of him, his intelligence, and the sadness of short life and helpless self-immolation.   

When I think of Tough, I think of his cymbals and bass drum accents on FORTY-SEVENTH AND STATE, of his solo on the Charlie Ventura Town Hall Concert, his relentless playing behind Hot Lips Page on THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE, and those are exaltations of body and spirit.  But it’s impossible to think of him without grieving for him.  And I may assume too much, but sadness and distance are in the early photograph as well.

 

“THINGS ARE TOUGH ALL OVER”

When Louis Steinman, my father (1915-1982), would meet a friend on the street, the dialogue would go like this,

“Hey, Charles, how’s every little thing?”

“Oh, things are tough all over.”

And they’d both laugh.

For the moment, things are tough all over. No, I must be more accurate: things are Tough all over.

I mean Dave Tough (he hated “Davey”) — one of the greatest drummers, percussionists, creators of sound-clouds, ever.  Cousin Uwe Zanisch (more about that later) sent along a wondrous YouTube clip, beautifully done, of an American jazz band that recorded in 1928 in Germany and featured Tough and Danny Polo on clarinet.  Given the fidelity of the 78 rpm record and the way that engineers recorded the drum kit eighty years ago, the listener will have to get deeply inside the sounds to hear what Dave was doing — but his steady, flexible bass-drum beat is a reassuring foundation of the band, and his cymbals and accents are there and they are right!  I hear echoes of the Jean Goldkette band in this and think you will too:

Cousin Uwe is someone I embrace through this cyber-medium, even though we have never met.  He is Sole Proprietor of a wonderful blog, SATCHMOTUBE — devoted to collecting and sharing performances of Louis Armstrong on film and television: http://satchmotube.blogspot.com/2010/05/pops-singt-italienisch.html.  It’s a delightful blog.  It makes me feel happy whenever I visit it. 

But why do I call Uwe “Cousin”?  It srikes me more and more that we have Internet families — people we love and admire who send the same feelings back — who we might never meet in person. 

Thus Uwe has been taken into the Steinman entourage, whether he likes it or not!  And maybe my ever-expanding jazz family will help me feel better about my dead father, someone whom I miss terribly as I write these words.  He lives through me, and I hope he knows that.

“SATCHMO SWINGS IN CONGO” and MORE

A very brief newsreel from October 31, 1960 — narrated by the once-ubiquitous Ed Herlihy — showing us the exultant reception Louis Armstrong received on his African tour.  Unfortunately, the music that would have accompanied a few seconds of this newsreel has been removed (perhaps it was difficult to record a soundtrack for Louis being carried through the streets?) and a generic “jazzy” one substituted, but one has only to see the proliferation of smiles to know the prevailing happiness:

Uwe Zanisch, the creator and proprietor of “Satchmotube” (http://satchmotube.blogspot.com/)  a website devoted to collecting and sharing footage of Louis on film of all kinds, told me about this extended profile — in German — of Louis, overseas in spring 1965.  I wish the dubbed translation hadn’t overpowered Louis’s voice, but even with my nonexistent German, much of this is accessible.  And I am now considering the purchase of a striped bowtie, whether or not it clashes with my Hawaiian shirts.  I am sure that the Beloved will avoid a horizontally-striped coat such as Lucille’s, but she’s more discreet:

It’s not often that I feel grateful to the news media, but I do now!

LOUIS, RICKY, AND UWE, SPREADING JOY

louis-1935-anton-bruehl

Louis Armstrong is still giving us joy, and people inspired by his spirit are being generous in his name. 

The prime mover here is Ricky Riccardi, whose Louis-blog, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG (www.dippermouth.blogspot.com.), has been extra-special of late.  If you haven’t visited it, you are depriving yourself of both pleasure and insight.  Typically, Ricky spins the roulette wheel of iTunes to come up with one of Louis’s records, which he lovingly analyzes in print. 

But wait!  There’s more!  Ricky’s writing makes me hear new things in records I know by heart.  And he also provides audio of the recording and of related tracks and video clips.  It’s like a free master class with a master listener who adores Louis.   

But wait!  There’s more!  Ricky’s friend-of-Louis Uwe Zanisch turned up some heroically rare film of Louis and the All-Stars: COLOR home movies of the band in Ghana in 1956, in Sweden in 1965 and 1961.  The band on the bus — reading, sleeping, chatting — and in concert.  Priceless and heart-warming.  And, as Ricky writes, the fact that the films are silent is even more endearing.   

Visit the site: if it’s snowing and cold where you are, you’ll feel warm and enriched all day.  And, with the power vested in me, I award Ricky and Uwe the Golden Order of Louis, First Class, with crossed shuzzit.