ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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In the town of New Orleans.

Great Satchmo plays all bathed in sweat,

His nostrils smoke like two great muzzles.

Thirty-two white projectors in his mouth

 
 
 

Satchmo CDs

Best Of Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong  /  Louis Armstrong - All-Time Greatest Hits  /  The Hot Fives & Sevens  

 The Definitive Collection / The Essential Louis Armstrong

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Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans 

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Books by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Early Poems / The Collected Poems, 1952-1990 Don't Die Before You're Dead / Twentieth Century Russian Poetry

A Precocious Autobiography / Ivan The Terrible and Ivan the Fool / Selected Poems

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Armstrong's Trumpet

By Yevgeny Yevtushenko

 

Great Satchmo plays all bathed in sweat,

A salty Niagara pours from his brow,

But when the trumpet rises to the clouds,

It growls and roars.

To the whole world he plays the way he loves,

He is stolen from us by the grave,

he was stolen first before his birth

From his sweet Africa.

In hidden reprise for the chains of his fathers

His music enslaves us all like helpless babes.

The whites of his great eyes flicker in sorrow

As he howls and horns about the globe--

This kid from a children's home

In the town of New Orleans.

Great Satchmo plays all bathed in sweat,

His nostrils smoke like two great muzzles.

Thirty-two white projectors in his mouth,

But the sweat is as natural

As a beautiful mighty hippo

Rising snorting from an African river.

Stamping on fan notes with his heel,

And wiping the downpour from his brow,

he throws handkerchief after handkerchief

Into the piano's open womb.

Again back to the microphone

pressing down on the stage till it cracks,

Each wet handkerchief is as heavy

As the crown of art.

And art is very far from pose,

When it labors it's not ashamed of sweat.

It's not the charm of prattlers

But full of movement of heavy things,

The tragic labor of a trumpet player

Whose music is tatters of lung.

Though art is bartered and sold,

That's not what it's all about.

The poet and the great jazzmen equally

Like brothers cut their gifts to others from soul.

Great Satchmo, will you make it to heaven"?

Who knows!

But if it happens--Play!

let the good times roll once more!

Shake up that boring state of little angels.

But so there'll be no remorse in hell,

So death will cheer us sinners up,

Archangel Gabriel,

Pass your horn to the better player

To Louis!

 

Translated by Albert C. Todd

 

First published in The New Laurel Review Vol. XV (Spring/Fall 1987), ed. Lee M. Grue

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Louis Armstrong West End Blues—The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven—Kalamu ya Salaam—This is the big bang, the origin of modern jazz. Before Louis Armstrong jazz music was mainly about ensemble work featuring piano players and/or bandleaders, particularly Jelly Roll Morton but also others such as Fletcher Henderson, James P. Johnson, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and the up-and-coming Duke Ellington. But from 1921 when Armstrong went to Chicago, a major change was in the making.

By the time Armstrong went to New York to join Fletcher Henderson in 1924 people were coming out specifically to hear an amazing soloist. Satchmo was the preeminent personality in the music, but even so, no one was quite prepared for what Pops accomplished with a series of recordings known as the Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions.What did Pops do that was so different?

He established the blues as a basic foundation for modern jazz. He elevated the role of the soloists, not just himself as a feature in front of an orchestra, but rather Pops created a band of individual soloists, which was a radical departure from the collective improvisation of traditional New Orleans music and also from the heavily orchestrated arrangements of dance bands. He established scat singing and created a new style for American vocalists emphasizing rhythmic inflections and melodic variation rather than straight, operatic-like singing.

He introduced sophisticated harmonic improvisation with the soloist making on-the-spot variations. He established the trumpet as “the” major solo instrument in jazz and it would not be until the arrival of Charlie Parker that the trumpet’s reign would be challenged. Pick up any major book on the history of jazz and you will read ecstatic paeans about “West End Blues” (from Complete Hot Five – Volume 3). The opening fanfare alone is enough to establish the song as a masterpiece, but check also how Pops reverses the tradition of horn obbligatos behind a lead vocalist.—more Kalamu

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Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an "inventive" cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the music's focus from collective improvisation to solo performance. With his instantly recognizable deep and distinctive gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics).—wikipedia

Satchmo, the Documentary—Forty years ago (July 2011, the world lost one of the most influential musicians of all time. Dipper. Satchmo. Pops. The great Louis Armstrong, with his creative cornet and trumpet mastery, his distinctively gravelly voice and his remarkable stage charisma, not only revolutionized the American public’s relationship with jazz, but was also one of the first African-American entertainers equally revered by black and white audiences in a severely racially divided country. He codified the art of jazz improvisation and shaped the course of musical creativity for generations to come, his influence permeating a multitude of genres, eras, styles and subcultures.brainpickings

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Trumpet Dreams—Kalamu ya Salaam—2006— Somewhere in America a young person looks at a trumpet. Ok, maybe they are not actually looking at a physical instrument. Maybe they are dreaming about a trumpet. Dreaming about playing a trumpet—the bell held high, gleaming in the sun, and people are dancing, and laughing, and shouting. Every riff played brings joy. Every move the dancers make in response, inspires our musician to higher heights of trumpetry. . . .

If this mythical kid dreaming of trumpet glory had studied the music, he certainly knew that King Oliver was the next trumpet great. Oliver traveled across the then new land called America, coast to coast. One of the iconic photographs of King Oliver and band was taken on the sidewalks of San Francisco. Coming rather early in the era of recordings, most of what comes down to us is but a pale sliver of sound compared to the reputation of the king, whose most lasting claim to fame was as a teacher and father figure for someone often considered the greatest jazz musician of all time: “Louis Satchelmouth” Armstrong.

Over the course of a long, long career that included hits in the 1950s, Armstrong grew to be affectionately known as “Pops” because he shouldered the responsibility of caring for and about at least three generations of jazz musicians. While Pop’s artistry as a trumpeter and vocalist will last as long as American culture lasts, what most of his fellow musicians valued most was the unstinting support he offered, including but not limited to, gifts of money when someone was down on their luck.

photo left: Herman Leonard

For the first half of the 20th century, you couldn’t get no bigger than Pops, couldn’t be more loved, or more welcomed worldwide. So when our kid is dreaming, undoubtedly the youngster envisions becoming as renown and loved as Pops was.

Armstrong’s shadow was so big that although he came along before the Harlem Renaissance, and although there were numerous other great jazz trumpeters including Bunk Johnson, who like Bolden came from the countryside, or Henry Red Allen (from Algiers, which is the part of New Orleans located on the west bank of the river), or Joe Newman, a stalwart of the Basie band, few knew that Joe was a New Orleans trumpeter, all of the brass men such as the aforementioned and many others notwithstanding, they were all dwarfed by the towering eminence of Louis Armstrong.

Within jazz in general there would be no serious challenge to Armstrong’s reign as the trumpet king until the meteoric rise of Dizzy Gillespie and the marathonic consistency of Miles Davis, both of whom would be eclipsed by another young man with a horn, another product of the New Orleans dream: Wynton Marsalis.—more Wordup

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

By Daniel Yergin

Renowned energy authority Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Prize, in this gripping account of the quest for the energy the world needsand the power and riches that come with it. A master story teller as well as one of the world's great experts, Yergin proves that energy is truly the engine of global political and economic change, as well as central to the battle over climate change.  From the jammed streets of Beijing, the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the conflicts in the Mideast, to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us inside the decisions and choices that are shaping our future. Without understanding the realities of energy examined in The Quest, we may surrender our place at the helm of history. One of our great narrative writers, Yergin tells the inside storiesof the oil market, the rise of the "petrostate," the race to control the resources of the former Soviet empire, and the massive corporate mergers that transformed the oil landscape.  He shows how the drama of oil—the struggle for access to it, the battle for control, the insecurity of  supply, the consequences of its use, its impact on the global economy, and the geopolitics that dominate it—will continue to shape our world.  

He takes on the toughest questionswill we run out of oil, and are China and the United States destined to conflict over oil? Yergin also reveals the surprising and turbulent history of nuclear, coal, electricity, and natural gas.  He investigates the "rebirth of renewables" biofuels and wind,  as well as solar energy, which venture capitalists are betting will be "the next big thing" for meeting the  needs of a growing world economy. He makes clear why understanding this greening landscape and its future role are crucial.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Louis Armstrong in His Own Words: Selected Writings

Edited by Thomas Brothers 

These writings from jazz great Louis Armstrong swing with the same warmth, rhythms, and inventive phrasing that made his music so popular. Armstrong toured with a typewriter and used it often for journals, writing letters to friends or strangers, and supplying reporters with material about his life. Eavesdropping backstage on Armstrong and his bandmates would make worthwhile reading for any jazz fan or historian, regardless of Armstrong's ability as a writer. But Armstrong writes well, in a style completely his own. Editor Brothers provides context and insight through short introductions to each piece. But he has a deep respect for Armstrong and has interfered as little as possible with his idiosyncratic writing. Armstrong developed a unique usage of quotation marks, commas, dashes, and underscoring that gives the writing its rhythm. In a letter to his manager, Joe Glaser, he writes ``IJust, Love, Your, Checks, in, My POCKETSOH They look so pretty, until, I hate like hell to cash them.'' Armstrong uses jazz argot, much of it now assimilated into the language, translating when he thinks it necessary: ``Here's how we were busted (arrested to you) . . .''

Of some sharp sight-reading musicians he writes, "They might read a Fly Speck, if it get in the way.'' The collection covers Armstrong's entire life, from his poor beginnings in New Orleans to his heyday in Chicago to his last years in Corona, New York. But the most compelling reading comes from Armstrong on his passions for music, gage (marijuana), and laxatives. He even signed a telegram to President Eisenhower (offering to take ``those little negro children personally into Central High School'') ``Am Swiss Krissly Yours . . .'' Swiss Kriss was the herbal laxative to which Armstrong credited his health. This collection transcends jazz and conventional grammar, revealing the humor and spirit of a legendary entertainer.—Kirkus Reviews / LettersofNote

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

update 5 January 2012

 

 

 

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Related files:  Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans  Evtushenko in Satchmo's New Orleans     Armstrong's Trumpet   Native Son:  Armstrong (poem)   Babii Yar  Lit a la Russe