Happy Passover and Happy Easter —
And consider reading Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout. It is an excellent book that capitalizes on the many, many hours of recordings Armstrong made of himself talking into a tape recorder. I haven’t yet seen Teachout’s play Satchmo at the Waldorf, but it is high, high on my list.
During the 1940s through 1960s, progressive Jazz musicians rejected Satchmo’s demeanor as too subservient, and his music as simplistic. It took Wynton Marsalis and others to actively promote and revive the primacy of his legacy. Not only is Teachout’s book an important capstone to this revival, but using Louis’ Armstrong’s own reflections he provides intimate evidence that Armstrong was not smiling the smile of Steppin’ Fetchit. Rather, as Teachout says, “Faced with the terrible realities of the time and place into which he had been born, he didn’t repine, but returned love for hatred and sought salvation in work.”
Or, as Armstrong says later on his album Louis and the Good Book, “No use crying, just get in there and pitch.”