Straight from the outer boroughs
|Louis Armstrong at Carnegie Hall, 1947–by Samkling via Flickr|
York City is considered the heart of the jazz scene by many music
aficionados, with Manhattan taking center stage (think the Cotton Club and Blue Note). But
you would never guess that some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians took up residence
in Queens at some point in their lives.
Fitzgerald, the first lady of jazz, lived in the Addisleigh Park neighborhood
of St. Albans, while John Coltrane lived for years on Mexico Street, also in St.
Albans, as well as Count Basie. Other jazz luminaries who lived
in the borough include Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Benny
Goodman and Glenn Miller.
|The Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona, Queens|
walking around the gritty neighborhood of Corona, Queens, it’s hard to envision
that Louis Armstrong, and his wife, Lucille, once lived at 34-56
107th Street, now the site of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The museum pays homage to the legendary New Orleans-born jazz
giant, who was known world over as “Satchmo.”
I had the pleasure of visiting the museum, which, I was told
by museum staff, is both a city and national landmark. Thanks to its landmark
status, the house, which the Armstrongs called home from 1943-1971, remains perfectly
preserved, looking as it did during Louis and Lucille’s stay.
|Corona, Queens—by Joe Schlabotnik via Flickr|
a hidden NYC gem, museum-goers are escorted through a 40-minute fantastic guided tour,
which starts every hour on the hour. Visitors get to hear various
sound recordings, including Armstrong practicing his trumpet, and clips
of a conversation between him and his wife. They even get to listen to Armstrong’s golden
pipes sing a capella-style in his den. In
addition, they’ll get the pleasure of viewing a collection of classic
photographs, letters, manuscripts, instruments and artifacts—a various treasure
trove for diehard Satchmo fans.
Armstrong information such as his work as a civil rights activist, and his
utmost love for Corona.
Japanese-inspired garden, which I’ll return to see again during the springtime. According to the tour guide, the museum hosts outdoor jazz performances
during the warmer months. I can’t wait to get a bit of a musical “Louis fix” on my next trip.