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[05] Everybody Loves My Baby E-mail
Viper Mad
Wednesday, 28 December 2005 05:50
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Part V

"Everybody Loves My Baby"


'It was Louis
who liberated the music,'
Sammy Price says, 'You must remember
that in the early days

of Ma Rainey
& Bessie Smith, instrumental solos
were just beginning 
he emancipated the jazz musician.'

'He was the kind of musician
you could sit there all night
& listen to,' Lawrence Brown said,
'& be amazed at the technique,

the poise,
& just everything. Every trumpet player
at that time
tried to play one of his choruses.'

Rex Stewart remembers
when 'Louis hit town. I went mad
with the rest of the town. I tried
to walk like him,

talk like him,
eat like him,
sleep like him. Finally I got to shake hands
& talk with him.'

'When I was nineteen,' Bill Coleman adds,
'I first heard Louis on a record
with Fletcher Henderson. I was hypnotised,
paralysed & knocked out

when I heard him. I could not believe
that one man
could get so much
out of a trumpet. Armstrong

was my first inspiration,
& I listened to all of his records
I could get hold of. In the beginning
I modeled myself on him.'

'The first Louis record
I ever heard,' Jack Teagarden remembers,
was "Cold In Hand Blues". I was
down in Texas, & all the musicians

stood & listened to it
over & over again. I guess that
just about everywhere else, too,
musicians were listening to Louis' records.'

We vipers lived in The Barbeque,'
Mezz sez, 'eating ribs five or six times a day
& listening to one of the first juke boxes
in Harlem. One day I caught up

with the man changing records
in the Barbeque, & gave him the names
of some of Louis' records. They all
hit the juke boxes fast, & they rocked

all Harlem. Everywhere we went
we got the proprietor to install more boxes,
& they all blared out Louis, Louis
& more Louis. The Armstrong craze

spilled over from Harlem
right after that, & before long
there wasn't a juke box in the country
that Louis wasn't scatting on.

'Louis & I
were running together
all the time, & we togged so sharp
we got to be known

as the Esquires of Harlem.
Dig these outfits: oxford-gray
double-breasted suits, black
double-breasted

velvet-collared overcoats
, white silk handkerchiefs
tucked in the breast pockets
of our suits,

a derby for Louis,
a light gray felt for me
with the brim turned down
on one side, kind of debonair

& rakish. Louis
always held a handkerchief
in his hand
& that started a real fad 

before long
all the kids on The Avenue
were running up to him
with white handkerchiefs in their hands

too, to show
how much they loved him. The slogan
in our circle of vipers became:
"Light Up & Be Somebody."'



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