Louis Armstrong's Final Recorded Trumpet Performance To Be Released
The recording was made on January 29, 1971 in the Ballroom of the National Press Club and was made into a limited edition record with only 300 copies most of which have vanished into attics. For several years a determined group of Press Club members have been working with their partners at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to bring the music to the public. Now, with the help of the Louis Armstrong Foundation, the moment has arrived.
It will be released on CD and digital download via www.folkways.si.edu and retailers including iTunes and Amazon as well as the streaming services. The album release is part of the Smithsonian Institution's celebration of the 11th annual Jazz Appreciation Month.
Armstrong agreed to perform at the 1971 inaugural party of incoming National Press Club President Vernon Louviere who was a Washington correspondent but a native of Louisiana. At the time he was booked, Mr. Armstrong's health was poor. He had not played trumpet for much of 1970 and his shows were mostly 10 minutes of singing. So the Press Club crowd expected to hear Louis sing a couple of songs. But Armstrong packed his horn when he traveled to Washington. He was feeling better and ready to play.
January 29, 1971 was a gala evening at the Press Club. The master of ceremonies for the event was the British Journalist David Frost. The crowd of journalists, dressed in black tie, had a real sense that they were about to witness history. Louis responded to the crowd's enthusiasm with more than 30 minutes of spirited singing, scat and to everyone's great surprise, trumpet. His trumpet was only to be recorded two other times: during a taped television show with David Frost; and on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before a studio audience. It is believed that neither was turned into a recording offered to the public.