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(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Oct. 27, 2000

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Nicholas Payton interview requests should go to Vernon Hammond -- phone 609-734-7403; fax-609-799-6566; e-mail <>. John Rapson, director of jazz studies in the UI School of Music would be a good source for additional comments about the significance of Louis Armstrong in the history of jazz. You can reach him by phone at 319-335-1633, or by e-mail at <>.)

Jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton celebration Louis Armstrong Centennial in Hancher

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Young jazz trumpet star Nicholas Payton and his band will mark the 100th anniversary of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong’s birth in the "Armstrong Centennial Celebration" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Armstrong, who claimed as his birth date the Fourth of July in 1900, was not only a beloved fixture in American popular music until his death in 1971 -- remembered for hits including "Hello, Dolly" and "What a Wonderful World" -- but also one of the most influential performers in the history of jazz.

In the 1920s he defined the role of the virtuoso soloist in jazz, setting standards for improvisation, phrasing and virtuoso display that have been the measure of jazz artists ever since. Miles Davis once declared, "You can’t play anything on the horn that Louis hasn’t played."

Armstrong’s trailblazing small ensembles mixed the popular tunes of Tin Pan Alley with the blues in a mixture that persists as the defining core sound of jazz to the present day. "Louis Armstrong took two different musics and fused them so that they sounded perfectly compatible," trumpeter and jazz evangelist Wynton Marsalis commented. "Not even Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Monk and Coltrane did anything that sophisticated."

Armstrong’s innovations -- including scat singing -- were so fundamental that jazz singer Tony Bennett concluded, "The bottom line of any country is, ‘What did we contribute to the world?’ We contributed Louis Armstrong."

Grammy Award winner Nicholas Payton would seem to be the natural choice for an Armstrong tribute. He grew up in musical culture of Armstrong’s hometown of New Orleans, and he resembles Satchmo both physically and musically. Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune asserted, "Surely no trumpeter today captures Armstrong’s radiant tone and brilliant, high-register technique as masterfully as Payton."

His recent Verve recording "Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton" includes many of the Tin Pan Alley standards associated with Louis Armstrong.

Payton’s "Armstrong Centennial Celebration" is a loving trip back to the streets of New Orleans and the big, bold music that Armstrong created from his experiences there.

UI Men’s Intercollegiate Athletics is the sponsor of the Nov. 17 concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for Nicholas Payton’s "Armstrong Centennial Celebration" are $28, $26 and $23. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20 percent discount, with Zone 2 and 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To learn more about Payton and the Armstrong centennial, visit <>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.