FLUSHING, NY, November 30, 2011 – Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM) is sitting on a coveted gift this holiday season—and people all over the world are learning about it, thanks to Elvis Costello. The museum is the only place in the United States where music lovers can pick up Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz, the monumental, career-spanning Louis Armstrong boxed set recommended by Costello.
On November 29, the British singer-songwriter used his website to dissuade fans from buying his own new boxed set, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, noting that its suggested retail price of $329.99 “appears to be either a misprint or a satire.” Instead, his message urged them to make a different purchase. “If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving,” he wrote, “we can whole-heartedly recommend, Ambassador Of Jazz - a cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with the name ‘Satchmo’ but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong. The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is vastly superior.”
The Gift of Music
Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz was released by Universal through its United Kingdom imprint in August 2011 in honor of Louis Armstrong’s 110th birthday celebration. The set has received limited distribution in the United States and is currently out of stock on Amazon.com, where individual owners have sold the box for nearly $400. The Louis Armstrong House Museum recently purchased every remaining copy from its North American distributor and has become the only place where you can walk in and buy this acclaimed collection for $149.99.
Support the Museum
This holiday season is a special time for the museum. After providing services and programs for 25 years, LAHM will hold its first gala on Tuesday, December 6. “Every cent we raise will go to fund operations,” says LAHM Executive Director Michael Cogswell, “including our historic house tours, free children’s concerts and performances, and making the archives accessible to the public at no charge.” A who’s who of the jazz and cultural world is expected to attend. The event will honor veteran record producer George Avakian, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and Queens College President James Muyskens. Gala tickets, sponsorships, and journal ads are available by calling Development Officer Nayelli DiSpaltro at 718-997-3589.
Celebrate at Louis’s House
In addition to its inaugural gala, LAHM will feature historic holiday house tours this season. The house will be brightly decorated in keeping with the traditions of Louis and his wife, Lucille. The tours, led by a trained museum docent, feature audio clips from Louis’s homemade recordings, including a rare at-home reading, by Louis Armstrong himself, of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz
Unlike other boxed-sets, the ten-CD Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz features material licensed from both Universal (Decca, Verve, Mercury) and Sony (Columbia, Okeh, RCA Victor), making it the only comprehensive collection that contains material from all the major labels Armstrong worked with throughout his six-decade career. Beginning with his earliest recordings with King Oliver in 1923 and ending with live performances of some of his best-loved tunes at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1970, Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz includes all of Armstrong’s signature repertoire, such as “West End Blues,” “Heebie Jeebies,” “Star Dust,” “When You’re Smiling,” “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” “La Vie En Rose,” “Mack the Knife,” “Blueberry Hill,” “Hello, Dolly,” and “What a Wonderful World.”
In addition, the set includes rare treasures, such as an intimate portrait of Louis Armstrong in the recording studio, rehearsing and perfecting performances with Oscar Peterson; an entire live set by Armstrong and His All Stars at the Hollywood Bowl; and his 75-minute interview with Dan Morgenstern and Jack Bradley, conducted in the den in Armstrong’s Corona home in May 1965. The box features a hardcover Armstrong biography written by Richard Havers, illustrated with rare photographs from the museum’s collection. LAHM archivist Ricky Riccardi played an important role in selecting the tracks, finding unissued material and suggesting sheet music to be replicated as special collectable mementos inside the suitcase-shaped box.
The only place to find these treasures is at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, where the sets are retailing for $149.99 while supplies last; at the moment, 42 boxes are left. Shoppers will also find other rarities that are no longer available elsewhere, notably the entire series of Ambassador CD, donated by the late Swedish Armstrong collector, Gösta Hägglöf.
Planning Your Visit
Louis Armstrong House Museum is located at 34-56 107th Avenue in Corona, Queens. The museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday/Sunday from 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm. Guided 40-minute tours start every hour on the hour. The last tour of the day leaves at 4:00 pm. The gift shop, exhibit area, and garden can be explored before or after the tour. No reservations are necessary for individuals, but groups of 8 or more should call ahead to make a reservation at 718-478-8274.
Parking is available within the neighborhood; the museum is accessible by subway as well. Take the 7 train to 103 St-Corona Plaza. Choose the exit on the north side of Roosevelt Avenue. Walk north up 103rd Street. Walk two blocks and make a right onto 37th Avenue. Walk 4 short blocks and make a left onto 107th Street. LAHM is on the left side, a half-block north of 37th Avenue.
In case you need to fly into New York City to pick up your boxed set, the museum is a quick taxi ride from LaGuardia Airport. Admission is $10.00, $7.00 for seniors, students and children; LAHM members and children under 4 can visit for free. Groups with reservations enjoy a discount on admission. Louis Armstrong House Museum is closed on all Mondays and the following holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It is always open on July 4th, in honor of Louis’s traditional birthday.