May 5, 2014

AN ODD TRIFECTA:

Louis Armstrong's Secret Lessons From Judaism : Satchmo Nibbled on Matzo and Wore a Star of David (Benjamin Ivry, May 05, 2014, Tablet)

A massive, and massively detailed new biography, reminds music mavens that jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong assimilated lessons from Judaism and expressed them through music and writing during his long career.

"Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism" by Thomas Brothers is a tribute to an unsurpassed jazz trumpeter and singer who relished Yiddishkeit. Born in 1901, Armstrong performed and recorded nearly until his death in 1971. Grateful early on for the respect, encouragement and affection he received as a boy from the Karnofskys, a Lithuanian Jewish family in his hometown of New Orleans, he later became dependent for decades on his manager Joe Glaser, a Jew with mob ties. Toward the end of his life, he repeatedly jotted down thanks to Jewish doctors who prolonged his career. At home, Armstrong snacked on matzoh as a preferred treat and wore a Star of David (accounts differ over whether it was given to him by the Karnofskys or by Glaser). The jazz photographer Herb Snitzer, who captured an image of Armstrong on a bus in 1960 with the Star of David clearly visible, commented: "[Armstrong] wore the Star his entire life."


Brothers, a Duke University musicologist, offers up captivating details about Armstrong, who was very vocal about his overindulgence in marijuana, laxatives and extra-marital affairs.
Posted by at May 5, 2014 2:43 PM
  
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