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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pops Culture Hero

I've been following the progress of a new play by drama critic and author TerryTeachout called Satchmo at the Waldorf.   It's still playing "out of town" but hopefully arriving in NYC soon. Satchmo, of course, is Louis "Pops" Armstrong--the most important American musical figure of the past century.  All he did was invent modern jazz playing, and singing.  And more.  I'm an enormous fan of his groundbreaking music of  the mid- to late-1920s, recorded with the Hot Five and Hot Seven.  Tight like that.

Anyway, I've been fascinated by the stories of the dozens of reel-to-reel tapes Louis left behind in his house in Queens when he died, which Teachout and others have now made use of.  The play is set backstage before the last gig of his life, at the Waldorf in NYC, and delves into his musical and political regrets, and includes a cameo by Miles Davis.  Pops was famously profane--and one of the biggest potheads around.   Here Teachout briefly sets the scene:

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