This year’s annual Armstrong Continuum celebrates the life and legacy of Louis Armstrong by focusing on his music and on his responses, both as a musician and as a citizen of the world, to the times of emergency through which he lived. What might his example teach us about facing our current era of trial and trouble?
Dedicated to the memory of the writer Stanley Crouch, who for many years served as president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, this year’s Armstrong Continuum is mindful of Mr. Crouch’s eloquence on the subject of Armstrong. In an effort to measure the man’s musical influence, Crouch turned to the vastness of the sky. “Louis Armstrong is always above us,” he wrote, “maintaining a celestial relationship of heat and illumination or moving the tides and sending down the snow, sustaining an aesthetic quality of photosynthesis and giving the ocean its color as that wet mirror reflects through its waves the infinite meanings of the blues. Yes, he is the sky of modern American music at its most original. No matter where you turn, there he is. In the morning, the sky is there; night, the sky is there; when it storms, the sky is there; during a drought the sky is there; when it floods, the sky is there. This has been true since Armstrong came to his power in the middle twenties and made a grand synthesis of all that had been laid down within earshot of his talent and on the pages of music he read and practiced as he developed his craft.”
Through musical presentations, conference papers, and public talks, the 2021 Continuum will attempt again to measure Armstrong’s influence. It will also ask: What can the artist do, in this era of COVID and the vast terrain of injustices that the pandemic has revealed, to help heal our planet? In light of Armstrong’s sky-high example, how can all citizens of the world act more responsibly?
Because the study of the forms and functions of jazz is required of every student in Columbia College as part of our Core Curriculum, this symposium will be addressed to the entire CU campus. It will also address our neighbors in Harlem, where Armstrong has long been celebrated; in Queens, where the Louis Armstrong House Archive is a city centerpiece; and then to the wide world beyond the gates of this great city—to the Louisiana, so to speak, of the planet.
The Armstrong Continuum is honored to present an all-star line-up of presenters and musicians:
Day One: Thursday, April 8, 2021 6 PM
Jazz and Social Justice
with talks by Rev. Dwight Andrews, Gina Belafonte, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Cornel West
Moderated by Robert G. O’Meally
Music in the Time of Emergency Concert
with performances by
Stefon Harris & Blackout
The James Zollar Quartet with special guest vocalist Brianna Thomas
This event is free and open to everyone but registration is required.
For more information or to register for this event please CLICK HERE