“I’m here in the cause of happiness.” – Louis Armstrong, 1964
Happiness, entertainment, fun and a “high level of art” will be in abundance when the Virginia Symphony Orchestra presents “Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: A Musical Tribute” this Thursday, September 29 at Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News and Saturday, October 1 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk.
Ankush Kumar Bahl, who recently completed a four-year tenure as the Assistant Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the concert. The New York Times describes him as an ”energetic” conductor that leads with “clear authority and enthusiasm.”
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra is one of Hampton Roads’ greatest cultural assets. They offer something for everyone. “Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: A Musical Tribute” is one of the VSO Pop series of concerts that range from jazz, to the music of Elton John to the Beatles.
It’s always great when there are vocalists standing in front of the VSO. There is something about the human quality of the voice that causes a different kind of connection between the stage and the audience.
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are two of the greatest jazz artists of all times. Byron Stripling, “trumpet virtuoso,” star of the Broadway musical, “Satchmo” as Louis Armstrong, will be performing some of Satchmo’s classics, both alone and in duet with Marva Hicks.
Marva Hicks, Broadway star, actor, and member of Broadway Inspirational Voices, will sing some of Ella Fitzgerald’s greats.
Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News in 1917. Byron Stripling met Ella while he was performing with the Count Basie Band. He says, “She was very shy off stage, but totally changed when she stepped onto the stage. She was in love with the audience and the audience was in love with her.”
Byron comes from a family who loves all kinds of music. He loved Ella’s music years before he ever met her. In 1975, he brought in a recording of “A Tisket A Tasket” for a high school assignment, “share your favorite music.” Ella recorded it in 1938. It was one of her first big hits. It was not Bowie or the Bee Gees. Byron got laughed at, but he didn’t care. Ella was the Queen of Jazz.
Louis Armstrong, born in 1901, “would never have made it to American Idol” today. He was a fantastic trumpet player but he had a gritty voice and was not the most handsome guy. Byron has studied Louis Armstrong. “Louis took what some thought were flaws and exploited them. He was a person who was almost like us, with his own struggles. Louis made us love him. He was a natural born entertainer.”
Ella Fitzgerald always admired Louis Armstrong. They recorded together many times. “Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: A Musical Tribute” will feature many of their famous duets from the Great American Songbook of jazz classics.
Louis was a master of scat, the vocal imitation of jazz horns. Louis’ “Heebie Jeebies,” in 1926, was the first recorded scat singing.
Ella became the female master of scat.
Together, they made magic. They recorded “Stompin’ at the Savoy” together in the 50’s. It is so much fun to listen to them playing with each other, with humor and spontaneity.
You will get to hear the magic at “Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: A Musical Tribute.” Byron Stripling guarantees an “evening for the whole family of classic jazz, fun and high level art.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to here.