In New Orleans, on a spot of hallowed ground where jazz began called Congo Square, stands the statue of Louis Armstrong. An obligatory photo op during the recent Armstrong Centennial year. But that statue poses many questions. First of all, why did they sculpt him JUST STANDING THERE??? Shouldn't the pre-eminent instrumentalist of all time have been bronzed hitting E above high C? And where is Satchmo's world-class grin? We needed answers, so we went to Los Angeles Jazz Historian Floyd Levin. He's the guy who raised all the money ($30,000 in individual donations averaging less than 5 bucks apiece), and oversaw the project through clay, bronze, four years in storage, and finally the ceremonial unveiling in Armstrong Park in 1980. And, yes, Floyd had the answers. Since pigeon poop means toxic death to statues, the first rule is that all horizontal surfaces are for the birds! Rule two: warm smiles do not translate to bronze….they become cold and frozen. So Satchmo celebrated his hundredth birthday seriously and silently, while the city of New Orleans had a big, wild party. As for Floyd Levin, his book "Classic Jazz - A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians" (and the straight poop on pigeons) is available from University of California Press.

RETURN TO PHOTO PAGE