Library celebrates Louis Armstrong Month

During the month of October, Greenwich Library and BackCountry Jazz are teaming up to pay tribute to Satchmo.

They will host several events and programs commemorating the life and music of Louis Armstrong, the legendary horn player whose famous improvisational style remains a strong influence in jazz today.

According to the library, “Louis Armstrong is synonymous with American Jazz, and we celebrate him, one of the most influential jazz performers of our time, all month long.”

On Friday Oct. 12, at 3 p.m., the program kicks off with a Master Class on West End Blues. Trumpeter and bandleader Wendell Brunious, of the prominent New Orleans musical family, will have an open rehearsal followed by a discussion of Mr. Armstrong’s music, beginning with the classic, West End Blues.

Mr. Armstrong’s 1928 recording of West End Blues was considered a pivotal moment in the history of jazz. His interpretation of Joe “King” Oliver’s tune would set the jazz standard and agenda for many years.

Then, later that evening at 8 p.m. the Friends Friday Film Series will present Cinematic Satchmo, rare footage of Louis Armstrong from the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College in New York. Archivist and Armstrong biographer Ricky Riccardi will provide commentary.

A highlight of the celebration takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. BackCountry Jazz presents The Music of Louis Armstrong with an all-star orchestra featuring vocalist Catherine Russell, drummer Herlin Riley and trumpeter Wendell Brunious under the direction of saxophonist and Greenwich resident Bennie Wallace.

Mr. Wallace, BackCountry Jazz’s founder and music director, has been a tenor saxophonist, composer, and recording artist for more than 30 years. He has released more than 20 jazz recordings, won five DownBeat awards and numerous recording awards, and has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Dr. John, Chick Corea, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. He is also the composer for the music of films including Bull Durham, Blaze, and White Men Can’t Jump.

On Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. there will be a panel discussion called Remembering Satchmo. Stories about Louis Armstrong will be bandied about by biographers Terry Teachout and Ricky Riccardi, legendary record producer George Avakian and Dan Morgenstern, one of jazz’s most respected journalist. The panel will be moderated by Mr. Wallace.

The celebration ends on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. with a Young People’s Concert. Trumpet player Bria Skonberg presents a children’s program and concert for kids of all ages. Ms. Skonberg has been performing since age four, and has toured all over the world. Best known for her knowledge of classical jazz, she is creating a style all her own rooted in swampy New Orleans and blues with swing, pop and world music influences. The concert will last about 45 minutes.

This event is made possible through the support of the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees and donors.

This series is free and open to all, but seating is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each event.

For more information, contact David Waring at 203-622-7917 or visit Greenwichlibrary.org/music.

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