Archives for December 14, 2011
Sean Prpick, a producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, came to my apartment earlier this year to interview me at length for a CBC radio documentary about Louis Armstrong. The program, Sean told me, would be based on the private tape recordings that Armstrong made in the last quarter-century of his life, hundreds of which are now on deposit at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens and served as unique and indispensable primary sources for Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, my 2009 Armstrong biography, and Satchmo at the Waldorf, my one-man play about Armstrong and Joe Glaser, his manager.
Few of these tapes–some of which are astonishingly, even shockingly candid–have been heard by the general public, and I was curious to see what the CBC would do with them. The answer came on Sunday when “Louis Armstrong: Real to Reel” aired throughout Canada. Not only was it a first-rate piece of work, but the excerpts from Armstrong’s tapes that were heard during the program were, to put it very mildly, uncensored.
You can now listen to “Real to Reel” on your computer by going here, and I strongly recommend that you do so. If you read Pops or saw Satchmo at the Waldorf and found yourself wondering what Louis Armstrong really sounded like in private, click on the link and you’ll find out.
Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten perform Britten’s arrangements of Purcell’s “I attempt from Love’s sickness to fly” and “Man is for the woman made” in Tokyo in 1956:
(This is the latest in a series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Monday and Wednesday.)
“Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.”
Benjamin Disraeli, Contarini Fleming