/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on May 6, 2010 at 9:09 am
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Unique New Silent Film about Jazzman Louis Armstrong

This August, Grammy Award-winner Wynton Marsalis and his 10-piece ensemble, join with internationally-acclaimed classical pianist Cecile Licad to play their musical score for the  silent movie ‘LOUIS’ – A Silent Film.

Louis_Armstrong_circa  1953 LOUIS is a film homage to the great American jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong and the birth of the great American musical art form – jazz.

Set in 1907 New Orleans, the film, shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Black Dahlia), tells the story of a poor young boy who dreams of playing the trumpet.

Starting his career at the age of 11, Louis Armstrong sang with a group of singing street kids and learned “Creole jazz” or scripted dance music.  He added his own unique flavor to it – a bit of improvisation.  The new sound became jazz.

With little formal training, other than some lessons he took while “incarcerated” at a boy’s school he was forced to addend after several run ins with the New Orleans police, he learned to read music.  Honing his craft, he playing in numerous bands and leading New Orleans musicians, including one band that performed on a steamboat that sailed up and down the Mississippi River.

His last New Orleans band was with a a silent film orchestra, and he then moved to Chicago for a few years where he cut a few records, then to New York City to join Fletcher Henderson’s band, the band considered to be the best African-American jazz band of the day.

Satchmo returned to Chicago, and with the help of his wife, who had billed him as “the World’s Greatest Trumpet Player,” Armstrong’s popularity grew as did his reputation for scat singing.  He continued to play the top clubs in Chicago, New York’s Harlem and Los Angeles.

Louis_ArmstrongBy the late 1930s, he had been featured in a Bing Crosby film, the hit Pennies from Heaven.   Mob connections, legal problems, debts and a drug possession charge added to his problems.

For the next 30 years, he toured, averaging 300 nights on the road.  But over time, the popularity of jazz was waning and he was forced to downsize his band into Louis Armstrong and his All Stars, a 6-piece band.

In 1949, Armstrong became the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time Magazine. Then in 1964 at the age of 63, Hello Dolly became a huge #1 hit, making him the oldest artist to have a #1 pop hit.

Besides being an trumpet and coronet player, bandleader and singer, Armstrong helped shape jazz into what is is today.

The presentation of the film LOUIS with live orchestration will be part of a very limited, one-time national tour.

‘LOUIS’ – A Silent Film
Music Center at Strathmore – Concert Hall (map)
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Betheda, Maryland

Dates & Times – Saturday, August 28, 2010 – 8:00 p.m.

Tickets – Go on sale Saturday, May 8th at 10:00 a.m.$35.00 – $79.00 and are available online.

Nearest Metro Subway Station – Grosvenor-Strathmore – Red line.  Exit the garage on the 4th floor and take the sky bridge leading to the main entrance.

Parking – Park free at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro garage. Valet Parking – $15.00.

Images – playing, Armstrong

Related places:
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    The Music Center at Strathmore
    5301 Tuckerman Ln, North Bethesda, Maryland
    View Details and Book

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