I got a fantastic message about Louis Armstrong’s record collection on Facebook this week from my long time record pal and jazz archaeologist, Rob Chalfen. Way back in the early days of this blog, we (mostly he, truth be told) fantasized about the contents of Louis Armstrong’s record collection. Rob had a lot of informed (and musically annotated) ideas what records he might have had which I dutifully documented in my pre-wordpress LOVE beta site. Despite my ham handed coding, it’s a cool bit of research connecting Louis to Caruso via a horn line in Herbert L. Clarke’s “Showers Of Gold Scherzo” (1912) that shows up in Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” (1928). IF that was not enough, he traced connections to Bert Williams and minstrelsy via two Elder Eatmore routines that Louis versioned and flipped. As I read it now, it seems to stand up as a pretty decent bit of freestyle musicology.
At the time, I think we both assumed that this would always remain the realm of informed speculation, because of course, what are the chances that Louis’s New Orleans record stash remained intact? Right. What are the chances?
Rob recently decided to contact contact The Louis Armstrong House Museum and ask. As usual, he sure has a knack for finding old records.
Here was the original message Rob sent:
hey Ricky, on the subject of Louis’ records, this work of quasi-informed speculation might amuse you, from a buddy’s blog with me a few years ago LOVE1_4 libraryofvinyl.org Reverse engineering Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans record stash
If you have a concordance of Louis’ early 78s I’d love to see it!
And then the nearly unbelievable reply:
Hey Rob! Finally getting a chance to sit down and respond to your message. Your piece was great and interestingly, almost 100% spot on! How do I know? Because as the Archivist of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Louis’s entire collection of records and reel-to-reel tapes is one room away from me. And better than that, when I was hired in 2009, my big project was to create an Online Catalog, which you can browse the link before. The accession number for all of Louis’s tapes and records is “1987.3” so you can search for any artist, just make sure you include 1987.3 as part of the list. So go ahead, search for “1987.3 Caruso” or “1987.3 Bert Williams”….you’ll feel like a prophet! Happy searching and thanks again! http://louisarmstronghouse.org/collections/online_catalog.htm Yours in Pops, Ricky
Louis Armstrong House Museum – Online Catalog
And Happy Birthday a day early!
Happy birthday indeed my man. And good ears, as always. Here’s to many more years of listening together. Keep on sharing what you find and I’ll keep on bloggin it up for the masses.