Friday, August 27, 2010
Louis ArmstrongMr. Armstrong, I just returned home. I spent the evening at Orchestra Hall here in Detroit, watching "Louis: A Silent Film" directed by Dan Pritzker. The film was accompanied by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and some of the members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The film was supposedly a fictionalized version of your childhood in New Orleans. I appreciated the music Marsalis composed more than the film. I am sure you're familiar with Marsalis' reputation as a fine jazz musician and bandleader. Marsalis has been instrumental in keeping your music alive. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under his leadership musically has risen to the level of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Count Basie Orchestra. Although the evening was about part of your evolution, Marsalis managed to work in bits and pieces of Ellington’s and Basie’s music. Mr. Armstrong, the first chunk of "Louis" was about your infatuation with a comely hooker name Grace, who an unscrupulous politician knocked up. When the politician wasn’t campaigning, he was conspiring to kill his illegitimate offspring. I wondered if the nefarious attempt to kill an innocent infant offended some of the audience. The second half of the silence farce, I mean silence biopic, centered on your futile quest for a trumpet guru to teach you to play the instrument. The film conveyed the impression you’re more interested in protecting the hooker than mastering the trumpet. Mr. Armstrong I'm not sure if you have seen the movie or read any reviews about it. If you have, was any of it true? Or did Pritzker take more creative liberties than necessary? It's unfathomable the folks at the orphanage allowed you to gallivant around the seedy streets of New Orleans unsupervised. Mr. Armstrong, Maybe I'm the only attendee who disliked the film. I gauged the audience throughout, and they got a kick from watching your fictionalized boyhood exploits. When the film ended and the credits rolled, the audience gave a hearty ovation.