For most Americans, the Fourth of July means celebrating the birth of our country, fireworks, hot dogs and burgers cooked by Dad on the barbecue and, these days, remembrance of the Vietnam War due to Oliver Stone's movie "Born on the Fourth of July."
To jazz lovers, the Fourth has another special meaning: it's the birthday of Louis Armstrong, the grandfather of jazz trumpet who brought his chosen music to fans all over the world. "Pops," who died July 6, 1971, would have been 90 on Wednesday--July 4, 1900, a perfect birth date for the first true genius of America's indigenous art form.
To honor "Satchmo," National Public Radio will present a special two-part program, "Louis Armstrong: The First Ninety Years." The first segment, the two-hour "The Kid From Algiers," is a collage of musical selections--"West End Blues," "Weather Bird," et al.--and interviews with the likes of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and jazz critic Martin Williams hosted by pianist Billy Taylor. It airs Wednesday on KPCC (89.3 FM), noon-2 p.m., and on KCRW (89.9 FM), 3-5 p.m. The program's second segment, "The Second Line," hosted by actor Ozzie Davis and featuring musical tributes to Armstrong as well as interviews with his former bassist, Arvell Shaw, among others, airs solely on KPCC, 2-3 p.m. Also on KPCC, Isabel Holt precedes the NPR broadcast with a three-hour salute to "Pops," 9 a.m.-noon.
SUBRAMANIAM IN BENEFIT: The noted Indian jazz and classical violinist, L. Subramaniam, joins forces with saxophonist Ernie Watts and others to play a benefit for Polio Plus and the Buena Park Rotary Club, Sunday, at the La Mirada Civic Theatre, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. The evening of contemporary jazz/fusion will begin at 6:30 p.m. Information: (714) 994-6310.
WOODS WORDS TO THE WISE: Phil Woods, the revered alto saxophonist who arrives at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood for a weeklong stand on July 10, is well known for his outspoken attitudes about jazz. In a recent issue of "The Note," a newsletter published by the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection, Woods had these words to say about the state of mainstream jazz in this country: "Jazz remains at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of support, and this support must begin at the local level . . . This music needs to be nourished . . . attendance needs to be better at (jazz) venues. Come on, fans. Get up off it. You can always tape Connie Chung. Get your buns down to a club. We need the bread! Bold innkeepers deserve our support." By the way, the newsletter is available from East Stroudsburg University, Music Department, East Stroudsburg, Pa. 18301.