Thursday, December 30, 2010

Louis Armstrong vs. Joe Oliver

I just finished reading Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout. Thought I'd share one moment that struck me. It's about Armstrong and his mentor Joe "King" Oliver, who at the time were playing at clubs across the street from each other in Chicago.
One night [in 1926], according to cornetist Wild Bill Davison, the two men dueled on the bandstand of the Sunset Cafe, playing "125 choruses of Tiger Rag--exchanging choruses. People went insane--they threw their clothes on the floor--it was the most exciting thing I ever heard in my life"....Eddie Condon later wrote that there was so much hot music to be heard in that part of town that a passerby standing on the corner of 35th and Calumet "could hold an instrument in the middle of the street and the air would play it."
Adding this to the itinerary for our next time-traveling vacation. Incidentally, 35th and Calumet is in the neighborhood called Bronzeville. That location now hosts a Meyer's Ace Hardware (where the Sunset Cafe used to stand) and a Popeye's Fried Chicken:

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