After starting the year with an onslaught of thick, new blogs, I'm sorry for disappearing after Valentine's Day. Fortunately, it was for a good reason: on Monday, March 2, I'm flying to England for the first time to spread the gospel of Pops at the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival!
And what a week it is shaping up to be. I will be in England from March 2 through March 9 and I have something booked for every day except March 5 (where I might escape from Bristol to London for one day just to see it in the flesh). On two of the days, I'll be giving private lectures for Bristol students, but three of the events in Bristol are ticketed-affairs open to the public and I do hope to see some of British Pops nuts in the audience!
On March 4 at 18:30, I'll be hosting An Evening With The King of Jazz at the Watershed movie theater. When asked to present Pops in such a setting, it seemed appropriate to screen clips of Louis in films. I'll be running the gamut from everyone's favorites ("The Five Pennies Saints," "Now You Has Jazz") to some rarer offerings ("Kisses in Der Nacht," "The Beat Generation," "That's What the Man Said" from Glory Alley and an extended sequence from Edward R. Murrow's Satchmo the Great). If you want to see why Pops was a popular presence in over 30 films, don't miss this one.
Then on March 7, I'll have my own showcase at the Lantern at 12:45, as part of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival. The official topic is The Life and Legacy of Louis Armstrong and I'm really breaking out the big guns for this. I'm going to examine how perceptions of Louis's legacy have changed since he died (He went commercial! He was an Uncle Tom! He clowned too much!) to today, using Louis himself to make my points with excerpts from his private tapes, audio of previously unissued performances and most of all, some of my favorite rare pieces of Pops footage (all different from the Watershed evening).
Finally, no Louis Armstrong fan is going to want to miss The Louis Armstrong Story at Colston Hall at 14:00 on Sunday. I'll be offering a short introduction but then will get out of the way as a band of international all stars (including Evan Christopher, Lillian Boutee, Don Vappie, Denny Ilett, Enrico Tomasso, Ian Bateman and others!) will pay tribute to the various stages of Armstrong's career. The Louis Armstrong House Museum has provided copies of some of Pops's original big band arrangements so I'm particularly excited to hear them live for the first time. And playing the role of Pops will be the acclaimed actor Clarke Peters, who will be reading Louis's own words throughout the performance. If you have your doubts, watch Peters read one of Louis's letters in this fantastic video from the Southbank Centre last year:
So there you have it. It'll be a great big Pops lovefest in England next week and I'm honored to be a part of it. More details and updates to come and I really hope to meet some of my Armstrong loving friends from the UK while I'm there!