Saturday, August 6, 2011

Louis Armstrong's birthday celebrated on Jackson Square

I live in a city where amazing events take place every day. So, I have to get used to missing a few and enjoying the ones where I get free tickets.

Such was a ringside event Thursday night in the private banquet rooms on the second floor of Muriel's Jackson Square. Though the description was a bit vague, I suspected it would be a worthwhile venture and called a musical friend on short notice to join me. Winding up the steep back stairs, the suite of rooms felt like a brothel (like I've ever been in one!) with plush couches, dim lighting, hidden nooks and paintings of naked ladies all about. 

After enjoying cocktails, pecan-crusted puppy drum and shrimp ├ętouffee, we were served a historical musical discourse about the famed Louis Armstrong, aka Satchmo, born 100 years ago that day.

Critically acclaimed British music writer Richard Havers, co-producer of a new, comprehensive boxed set from Universal Music Group/Verve of great Armstrong recordings, “Satchmo” is being released at the 2011 Satchmo SummerFest.  The set is being hailed as “the most complete Louis Armstrong boxed set ever made available."

In attendance was George Avakian, producer of million-seller singles of music by Armstrong as well as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Erroll Garner, Miles Davis, Mahalia Jackson and Sonny Rollins. We were clearly in the midst of a very insider group, but I shared with the woman sitting beside me that my friend and I had once opened for Bob Hope at the Municipal Auditorium, going on right before the Dingalings - true!

Partway through the program, a surprise guest made an appearance. Dr. John, master of "folklorique, mysterioso sounds that coalesce in New Orleans from African, the Caribbean and South America," according to his promoter.

Avakian plans to produce a new tribute to Armstrong, interpreted by Dr. John. The working title is "Dr. John meets Louis Armstrong." 

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