Sunday, September 30, 2007

Good (Belated) Post Alert: The Day Louis Armstrong Made Noise

Sorry, Garlic Fans, as I had meant to post this last week.

In the middle and heat of the Jena Six, we had a great story on Satchmo, and how 50-years ago, he took a stand in support of the Little Rock Nine.

While not out in the forefront of protest, in the way Folk and Rock have captured the headlines, Jazz hasn't had it's head-in-the-sand.

You can go back to Charlie Parker, and his tune "Now's The Time", protesting for desegregation and Brown v. Board of Education.

And there's John Coltrane's mournful lament with "Alabama", after the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed the four little girls.

Fables of Faubus weighed on on the same Little Rock situation, with his "Fables of Faubus", lampooning the Governor and Segregationist Orville Faubus and there's the jumping, jamming anti-war protest from Les McCann with his "Compared To What".

But back in 1957, Louis Armstrong made news, in of all places, Grand Forks, North Dakota, with the aid of a young journalism student.

Armstrong's appearance in Grand Forks came two-weeks after the Little Rock Nine were banned from attending Central High School.

Journalism student Larry Lubenow was sent over to get an interview, if he could and after getting access to Armstrong, Lubenow was in for the scoop of his life;

"But soon he brought up Little Rock, and he could not believe what he heard. “It’s getting almost so bad a colored man hasn’t got any country,” a furious Mr. Armstrong told him. President Eisenhower, he charged, was “two faced,” and had “no guts.” For Governor Faubus, he used a double-barreled hyphenated expletive, utterly unfit for print. The two settled on something safer: “uneducated plow boy.” The euphemism, Mr. Lubenow says, was far more his than Mr. Armstrong’s."

His editors didn't believe him, so Lubenow went back to see if he could get the verification they sought.
"Then Mr. Lubenow showed Mr. Armstrong what he’d written. “Don’t take nothing out of that story,” Mr. Armstrong declared. “That’s just what I said, and still say.” He then wrote “solid” on the bottom of the yellow copy paper, and signed his name."

And the rest is history, with Armstrong contacting President Eisenhower;
"But it didn’t really matter. On Sept. 24, President Eisenhower sent 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne into Little Rock, and the next day soldiers escorted the nine students into Central High School. Mr. Armstrong exulted. “If you decide to walk into the schools with the little colored kids, take me along, Daddy,” he wired the president. “God bless you.”

Check it out, it's a good read.

David Margolick: The Day Louis Armstrong Made Noise

Bonus Satchmo Links

The Official Site of the Louis Armstrong House

Time 100/Stanley Crouch - Louis Armstrong: With dazzling virtuosity on the trumpet and an innovative singing style, Satchmo was the fountainhead of a thoroughly original American sound

Louis Armstrong on Wikipedia

Louis Armstrong Music

Another gorgeous clip from Ken Burns' landmark series, JAZZ. Louis Armstrong's West End Blues, possibly the most perfect three minutes of music ever recorded, and set to a montage of contemporary images.

Louis Armstrong - Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen (1962)

Louis Armstrong - C'est si bon (1962)

The best version of Stardust I've ever heard -thanks Pops

Louis Armstrong in Germany - Mack the Knife

Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden - Rockin' Chair @ Newport Jazz Festival 1958

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