One way to brighten up a gray day is to find this possibly autographed promotional photo of the great Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong. We like to think Mr. Armstrong conceived of the photo design himself: serenading his own smiling face, as bright as the sun, playing music and riding a trumpet surfing the sound waves pouring from his own disembodied hands. This delightful photo came to the Southern Folklife Collection as part of the John Garst Collection (# 20136).
Finding the photo made us think about a concert recording of Louis Armstrong and his All Stars made on May 8, 1954 at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Digitized in the the SFC studios in 2006, the original recording is stored in the UNC Music Library.
Featuring Billy Kyle on piano, Kenny Johns on drums, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Trummy Young on trombone, Arvell Shaw on bass, and guest vocalist Velma Middleton, the recording shows a band in top form. Armstrong is the consummate bandleader, laughing and cracking jokes, and the band and the audience both follow suit making for an enthusiastic and raucous performance. It was a good day to be in Chapel Hill. The concert mixes jazz standards and pop tunes into Armstrong’s own signature New Orleans musical gumbo, kicking off with a wonderfully woozy version with “When it’s Sleepy Time Down South” and including a swinging version of the then brand new rock and roll hit, “Blueberry Hill.” Enjoy the collection of audio selections from the concert below, including the intro to “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” and Armstrong’s unforgettable vocals on the hit “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Introduction, 8 May 1954
[audio:https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/sfc/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2011/04/Louis-intro.mp3|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_intro]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue”
[audio:https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/sfc/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2011/04/Louis-Barbeque.mp3|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Struttin’ with Some Barbecue]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Intro, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
[audio:https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/sfc/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2011/04/Louis-Kiss1.mp3|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Kiss_Intro]
— Louis Armstrong & his All Stars: Vocals, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
[audio:https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/sfc/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2011/04/Louis-Kiss2.mp3|titles=Louis Armstrong at Memorial Hall_Kiss]