Celebrate Louis Armstrong Month

During the month of October, Greenwich Library and BackCountry Jazz will host several exciting events and programs commemorating the life and music of Satchmo, the legendary horn player whose famous improvisational style remains a strong influence in jazz today. Louis Armstrong is synonymous with American Jazz, and we celebrate him, one of the most influential jazz performers of our time, all month long.

Thumbnail image for louis-armstrong.jpgOn Friday October 12, at 3 p.m., the program kicks off with a Master Class on "West End Blues". Trumpeter and bandleader Wendell Brunious, of the prominent New Orleans musical family, will have an open rehearsal followed by a discussion of Armstrong's music, beginning with the classic, "West End Blues". Armstrong's 1928 recording of "West End Blues" was considered a pivotal moment in the history of jazz. His interpretation of Joe "King" Oliver's tune would set the jazz standard and agenda for many years. 

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Later that evening, at 8:00 p.m. the Friends Friday Film Series will present Cinematic Satchmo, rare footage of Louis Armstrong from the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College in New York. Archivist and Armstrong biographer Ricky Riccardi will provide commentary. 

A highlight of the celebration takes place on Saturday, October 13 at 4 p.m. BackCountry Jazz presents The Music of Louis Armstrong with an all-star orchestra featuring vocalist Catherine Russell, drummer Herlin Riley and trumpeter Wendell Brunious under the direction of saxophonist Bennie Wallace. 

Catherine Russell is an award winning singer whose father, the late Luis Russell, was a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time collaborator. Russell has toured with artists such as Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein and Rosanne Cash. 

Catherine Russell.jpg

Master drummer Herlin Riley is steeped in the rhythmic traditions of his native New Orleans and brings those exotic flavors to all his musical projects. Herlin's more high visibility gigs include his six-year tenure with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Currently, he is a member of the Ahmad Jamal Trio. 

Bennie Wallace, BackCountry Jazz's founder and music director, has been a tenor saxophonist, composer, and recording artist for over 30 years. He has released over 20 jazz recordings, won five DownBeat awards and numerous recording awards, and has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Dr. John, Chick Corea, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Bennie is also the composer for Oscar-nominated films whose credits include Bull Durham, Paul Newman's Blaze, and White Men Can't Jump, among others.  

Bennie Wallace.jpg
On Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. there will be a Panel Discussion - Remembering Satchmo. Great stories about Louis Armstrong will be bandied about by four people who know him best: biographers Terry Teachout and Ricky Riccardi, legendary record producer George Avakian and Dan Morgenstern, jazz's most respected journalist. The panel will be moderated by Bennie Wallace as the experts discuss jazz icon Louis Armstrong and the immense impact he has had on American culture. 

The celebration ends with a bang on Sunday, October 28 at 2 p.m. with a Young People's Concert. Louis Armstrong was adored by children the world over. Trumpet player Bria Skonberg presents a children's program and concert for kids of all ages. Skonberg has been performing since age four, and has toured all over the world. Best known for her knowledge of classical jazz, she is creating a style all her own rooted in swampy New Orleans and blues with swing, pop and world music influences. The concert will last about 45 minutes. 

Louis Armstrong Month is made possible through the support of the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees and contributions by generous donors. This series is free and open to all, but seating in the Cole Auditorium is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Doors will open at 30 minutes prior to each event. For more information, please contact David Waring at (203) 622-7917 or visit www.greenwichlibrary.org/music.

The purpose of BackCountry Jazz is to present concerts and educational programs by celebrated jazz artists and use the transformative power of music to catalyze change in both individuals and communities. We work collaboratively with partner organizations to invigorate the community educationally and socially, while building future audiences for America's unique cultural heritage. Through concerts, educational programs, scholarships, and the Bridgeport public school summer music camp, BackCountry Jazz makes significant contributions to building stronger communities. More information is available at www.backcountryjazz.org.


This sounds like a wonderful program and a worthy effort to honor a great musician. However, I find the choice of a photo of Mr. Armstrong offensive and out of place -- this cartoonish caricature may be typical of the PR used by the racist society in which he was embedded, but it hardly seems appropriate for a program honoring his contributions.

Thank you for your comment and interest in Louis Armstrong Month. This series was organized by BackCountry Jazz, and includes experts from the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College, Armstrong biographers and well respected jazz journalists. The photo used in our materials is a standard photo of Mr. Armstrong and is not intended to offend anyone.

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This page contains a single entry by Kate published on September 13, 2012 1:02 PM.

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