The Washington Post

Louis Armstrong rare recording, made in Washington, to be re-released

When Louis Armstrong, the great, great Satchmo, was honored at the National Press Club in 1971, he picked up his trumpet and played as a gesture of thanks.

William P. Gottlieb's famous photo of Louis Armstrong, circa 1946. (William P. Gottlieb)

Now Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, joined by the Armstrong Foundation, is re-releasing what is believed to be Armstrong’s last recorded trumpet performance.

The recording is titled “Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours,” and it includes recipes that were in the original liner notes.

Armstrong is so significant an avatar of American culture, we knew it would be worthwhile to take it on and make the music public again,” said D. A. Sonneborn, the associate director of Folkways. “It has a wonderful live quality, in my opinion,” he added.

On that night, journalist David Frost emceed the event and Armstrong, along with Tyree Glenn and Tommy Gwaltney, played “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” “Hello Dolly,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “Boy from New Orleans” and “Mack the Knife.”

William McCarren, the executive director of the Press Club, had to find a record player to listen to the club’s old vinyl copy.

“In one track, he sings ‘Boy from New Orleans.’ This is late in life and while I had heard that song before I realized that this a person who in a very realistic way knows he is at the end of his life. It is very moving,” McCarren said.

Armstrong died five months after the Press Club appearance.

The re-issue contains six songs from a tribute concert, including “Mood Indigo” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”

The 58-minute recording will be released April 24 and discussed April 27 at a forum at the Press Club.


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