24 February 2011

Mel on Louis

So I'm on a Mel Torme jag. Sue me.

I'm reading his book My Singing Teachers: Reflections on Singing Popular Music (Oxford University Press, no less, 1994), which includes this anecdote about Louis Armstrong:
I got to know Louis over the years and found him to be a warmhearted, loving man. He had a great pride in himself and his accomplishments, particularly his role as unofficial goodwill ambassador from America to the world.

He had a great sense of humor, sometimes biting, sometimes self-deprecating. I remember once, when I was playing the Paramount theater in New York, he came bounding up the stairs to say hello to some musicians on the floor above my dressing room. I yelled at him: “Hey Louis, what's happening?”

He bounced back into my doorway, grinned that Chinese grin of his, and said: “White folks still in the lead.”
Next book in the stack: Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.

[Photo of Armstrong from 1946 by William P. Gottlieb from the Gottlieb Collection at the Library of Congress Flickr Feed.]

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