Stories From Main Street: Rare Louis Armstrong Recordings Come To Queens
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The voice is unmistakable. So is the horn. It’s Louis Armstrong, a.k.a Satchmo, heard in a live recording from the Cotton Club in 1939.
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It’s a rare find and among the gifts from a fan in Stockholm, Sweden.
“Gösta Hägglöf – I always refer to him as the Swedish oracle of Louis Armstrong,” said archivist Ricky Ricardi.
Ricardi says it’s like King Tut’s tomb – a treasure trove of 45 boxes of rare Louis Armstrong recordings, letters, and videos from this Swedish banker.
“In his will, Hägglöf actually left us thousands of CDs and some CDs are very hard to find,” Ricardi told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
Gösta Hägglöf first saw Armstrong in 1949. They met, became friends, and wrote to one another.
“Half way across the world in Sweden, there’s this banker who hears Louis Armstrong, who gets close to Louis Armstrong, who writes letters to Louis Armstrong, who collects all of his recordings, and now we have his collection,” said Ricardi. “Armstrong recognized that Hägglöf’s love for his music was very sincere. It was very profound, very deep, and Louis was a fan of what Hägglöf was doing.”
It seems an unlikely pairing – Satchmo and the Swedish banker.
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To find out what they shared in common, besides a love of music, visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens.
Up on the second floor in the wood-paneled den, Hyland Harris showed off Armstrong’s own meticulously indexed reel-to-reel collection.
“You’ll see his index here and his tapes would be stored there,” Harris said.
Armstrong can even be heard talking about his collection in an old recording.
“You have a record album made. All I gotta do is look in the little book and put my finger on it,” said Armstrong.
They shared a trans-Atlantic kinship, a love of music and collecting.
“People would always say Louis was sort of a pack rat, but pack rats don’t index,” said Harris.
“The Gösta Hägglöf collection really brings it to another level,” said Ricardi.
The museum is located at 35-56 107th Street and is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Its website is http://www.louisarmstronghouse.org.