I rejoice to report that an excerpt from Satchmo at the Waldorf, my first play, will appear in the Fall 2013 issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It’s a special American-music issue guest-edited by Gerald Early, and it’ll be the first time that any part of Satchmo has appeared in print, as well as my first appearance in the pages of Daedalus.
The excerpt is prefaced by an author’s note called “Satchmo’s Shadow”:
Writing the biography of a performing artist is like standing in the wings to watch a play. You see what the public sees, only from a different perspective. Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, my 2009 biography of the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century, is about the much-loved genius-entertainer who made millions of people feel warm inside–but it’s also about the private Armstrong, who swore like a trooper and knew how to hold a grudge. The fact that Satchmo (as he liked to call himself) had two sides to his personality doesn’t mean that the public man was somehow less “real” than the private one. Like all geniuses, Armstrong was complicated, and that complexity was part of what made his music so beautiful and profound.
Biography is about telling, theater about showing. Having written a book that told the story of Armstrong’s life, it occurred to me that it might be a worthwhile challenge to try to show an audience what he was like offstage. This was the seed from which Satchmo at the Waldorf grew….
Just in case you were wondering, all of the countless four-, seven-, and twelve-letter words in Satchmo will be printed IN THEIR ENTIRETY.
For more information about the issue, go here.