A Night With Louis Armstrong

İstanbul is full of stories and legends. You just need to scratch the surface. My story will be a little popular one concerning Satchomo or Pops or aka Louis Armstrong. The American jazz trumpeter, composer, came to İstanbul with his Orchestra All Stars to perform for 3 nights. Two of the concerts took place in Saray Theater (unfortunately doesn’t exist any longer) and of course The Hilton Hotel. The dates were 10-11-12 April 1959.

The funny thing about it was that it was organised by the internal revenue office. The income was to be donated to the office and the tickets were sold in the booths of İstanbul Tax Administration. Awkward situation indeed.

The first two concerts went flawless and everyone was happy. These concerts were evaluated by my all time favourite Turkish Music entrepreneur  İlhan Mimaroğlu and Louis Armstrong was interviewed by Sezen Cumhur Önal. All was swell until the concert in Hilton.

According to Vefat Zat, the barmen of Hilton Hotel at that time, a scandal was overcome at the very last minute.

The concert hour overlapped with dinner service. In the light of this dramatic error Louis armstrong who was already on stage left the concert with his orchestra. I can’t blame him! The invitees were shocked as this was a private concert on their behalf. Louis Armstrong went back to his room and it took some serious persuasion and convincing before he came back on stage. Some of the organisers threatened the trumpeter with cancellation penalties that he had to pay at least 1 million dollars if the concert didn’t realise. Of course the trumpeter called the bluff and opened his chequebook. Anyway after half an hour of negotiation Louis Armstrong took stage and the invitees now aware of what went on dropped their forks and gathered around the stage to listen to this musical gem. It’s said that the concert lasted until the first rays of daylight hence that is how a night with Louis Armstrong ends…