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Meeting Louis Armstrong

It was in 1956 while I was serving in the U.S. Army 4th Armored Division Band in Texas. In our off duty time, I had a 5-piece band that played jazz standards for dances, which was the popular dance music of the time.



We played at the Non-Comissioned Officers Club, the Officers Club, and local USO clubs. The NCO club, of which I was a member, would on occasion book some name bands for concerts. Woody Herman and his jazz band, and Louis Armstrong were two bands that I was able to see when they were there.




Prior to the show starting, another of my band members and I went to the Green Room to meet Mr.

Armstrong. I remember him as being very friendly, cordial, and eager to chat with us - a very down to earth person. He talked about his music, and emphasized his new drummer who he was really excited about. Although I don't recall the drummers name, it must have been Danny Barcelona.


Barrett Deems had been his drummer for a long time and I would have remembered if Deems was the drummer because he was called the fastest drummer alive.



Danny Barcelona had been introduced to Louis Armstrong by Trummy Young early in 1956 and worked with him for many years after that. Also, when Louis mentioned the drummer to us, he said he was his new young drummer. Danny would have been about 27 at the time, so it's understandable that Louis would use the term "young" when describing him. I didn't get the chance to meet Danny; he was setting up his drums onstage when we were talking to Mr. Armstrong. We didn't want to bother him during the set up.


Check out our show schedule at the new (starting up October 2, 2022) non-profit Mesa Jazz and Blues Theater at 5255 E Brown Rd. Mesa 85205 (inside the Connect Church facility)


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