On Sunday the 15th of May, Flushing Town Hall was again swinging with style and reaffirming its reputation as one of the northeast's major cultural venues for the true American art form called Jazz. This evening, in the delighted company of a capacity audience spanning many generations, Michael Cogswell, the director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives, opened the celebration of Satchmo's legacy with a visually captivating slide show replete with a fascinating mini history of the legendary musician's home in Queens, his personal life and his vast musical accomplishments. His opening walk down memory lane revealed many little-known facts about Satchmo, like his unique dedication to cataloging and documenting his music on reel-to-reel tapes, his appearance in over 30 motion pictures including Grace Kelly's last film, "High Society," and how his moniker of "Satchmo" was bestowed upon him in 1934 by the editor of Melody Maker Magazine.
The second course was served up in grand style as the highly acclaimed Queens big band leader and multi-instrumentalist, Carol Sudhalter, had her ensemble kick the excitement up a few notches with renditions of "Honey Suckle Rose," "Guataca City," "Dee-Dee," and the original Sudhalter composition, "Journey Through the Night" and "East of the Sun." Each member of this group, with Myrna Lake the vocalist, Fred Jacobs on trumpet, pianist Bill Gerhardt, Dave Ruffels on bass, the incomparable Tootsie Bean on drums, and Carol on baritone sax, tenor sax, and flute, made it clear why they were there.
The stage was now set, as the third act and the evening's final tribute to Satchmo commenced when his long-time creative comrade/band mate Arvell Shaw, brought his Louie Armstrong Legacy Band to the stage (following an exhausting performance night at Pace University the night before), and tore the house up and down, and gave, as they say in the industry, "lessons." With Shaw's legendary chops on bass, the renowned
Art Baron on trombone, multi-reedman "Big" Joey Cavaseno doubling on clarinet and alto sax, Loyld Mayers on the eighty-eights, Frank Derrick pulling it magically together on drums, and renowned trumpeter Byron Stripling - if you were "in the house this night," you were in Louie's world.
The energy was scintillating as each member soloed or was featured during renditions ala Satchmo of "Struttin' with Some Barbecue," Tin Roof Blues, and velvety smooth baritone vocals by Shaw on "Mack The Knife" and the classic Armstrong signature piece, "What A Wonderful World."
Yes folks, Jazz is still very much alive and well in our town of Queens.
Call the box office of Flushing Town Hall at 718-463-7700 to find out what's in store in the weeks and months to come.
Reach Qguide Jazz writer Norm Harris by e-mail at JazzShots email@example.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.
©2001 Community News Group
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