Literature

Three takes on Louis Armstrong

 

 

 

 Listening to God

by Robert Hecht

 

One afternoon at the age of ten, lightning strikes.

Alone in our ramshackle wood-frame house in Hartford, I decide to listen to some of my parents’ 45 RPM records. I watch one slide down the fat spindle and plop onto the turntable to receive the tone arm and needle. The music starts and like a bolt captures not just my ears but my whole being. It’s a guy with a gravelly voice singing something about building a dream on a kiss. Then there’s this trumpet solo that’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It sounds like it could be God himself playing. That voice and trumpet just take my breath away. I play the record over and over until it becomes a part of me forever.

Louis Armstrong—

45 revelations

per minute

 

 

 

__________

 

 

 

AN  ANECDOTE ABOUT  LOUIS  ARMSTRONG, TRUMPET PLAYER,

       FROM THE 1930’S: A  PROSE POEM, OR VIGNETTE.

by Alan Yount

 

                   growing up in st.louis  in the 1960’s

there were always                 several jazz stories

          going around      the jazz clubs      everyone knew.

 

                   it was during, the 1930’s depression

when the grand theatre                  was opulent then        

          it had oriental carpets           and crystal chandeliers.

 

vaudeville shows         came                   and bands played from all over.

louis armstrong            played many times      and once

          a twelve year old kid    named aaron      snuck in

the side door      to hear him play.

 

          the band    took a dinner break

and aaron followed them

                   to a burger place near by.

 

          louis  went up to

the carry out window   to place an order.

          aaron heard a voice       from inside

laying it down     “no service here

                   to no coloreds.”

 

          then all of a sudden    aaron found himself

standing on the street   right in the middle of the band.

          he couldn’t believe      he was really speaking …

“mr. armstrong … if you give me some money

          I will go back       and buy you all

some burgers.”

 

          louis then grinned at aaron

“thanks son … meet us up   on the stage

                   to the side.”

 

          when aaron got back

to the stage … he carried up

                    two paper sacks of food.

 

  1. armstrong, waved him on up

and said “come into the wings.”    the two of them

                   sat together, sharing fries …

 

          then mr. armstrong said …   “I’ve got another idea …

when we go up on stage      & start playing

                   how would you

          like to come        out on stage with me

and sit in a chair          right next to me?”

                   “I might       need to lean

on your shoulder, o.k.?”

 

          aaron later thought      that this was

the most exciting thing             that had ever happened

                   in his life    at twelve,  for sure!

 

          of course        as this st.louis story goes

young aaron       was a.e. hotchner.

                   “hotch”       continued the knack

all his life        of befriending          famous people.

 

 

 

__________

 

 

 

Louis

by Robert Harris

 

When he played his horn and wiped his brow
He showed the world how
Jazz was his genius like a painting by Van Gogh
And all the world still calls him Satchmo.
He gave us Heebie Jeebies with all that scat.
He was and is the biggest of the cats.
He could make you laugh and sometimes cry,
But even for the best the years pass by.
Now, Southern Doodle Dandy has gone along
To teach old Gabriel a new kind of song,
And for those who love Jazz Louie’s way
There’s magic in the music that Ole Pops played.

 

 

 

 

 

_____

 

 

 

Robert Hecht is an award-winning jazz disc jockey and fine art photographer whose photo work has been published in LensWork, Black & White, Zyzzyva and The Sun and exhibited internationally. His writing has previously appeared in LensWork and in the haiku journals Frogpond, Bottle Rockets and Modern Haiku. He and his wife live in Portland, Oregon. For twenty-five years they have been partners in On Point Productions, writing and producing marketing and training video programs. Visit his website by clicking here.

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

Alan Yount lives on the north bank of the Missouri River, just south of Columbia, Missouri, and has taken poetic inspiration from boating and floating the river for many years. His poems have been published in a variety of publications, including Palo Alto Review, Roanoke Review, Spring…the Journal of E.E. Cummings Society, Apostrophe Magazine, Columbia College Journal of the Literary Arts, Modern Haiku, Pegasus Review, and Tidepool Magazine. Alan also plays jazz trumpet, and has led his own dance band. He is a direct descendant of the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone.

 

 

*

 

 

 

With feet planted squarely in both Texas and Thailand and a heritage that includes membership in the Cherokee Nation, Robert O. Harris, Jr. teaches at the University of North Texas at Dallas. He retired in 2014 from Northwood University and was named Associate Professor Emeritus. His essay, Charles and Robert, A Literary Friendship, was published by the De Golyer at Southern Methodist University. His commentaries about unpublished poems by Tennessee Williams have appeared in the Southwest Review. His poem, “The Performance,” appeared in Space and Time.

 

 

_________