Through the first 14 parts of our Jack Bradley series, we have rarely ventured out of New York City except for a couple quick trips to Newport. But between January 21-30 1965, Louis and the All Stars performed at Caesar’s Monticello in Framingham, Massachusetts and being a Cape Cod native, that was enticing enough for Bradley and Jeann Failows to make the trip up to New England for the entire engagement.
They seemed to have been tipped off to the engagement by a friend named “Melish,” who mailed them an advertisement on January 12, along with a phone number to book a room and a listing of ticket prices, which ranged from $7.00 on Monday and Tuesday to $8.00 on Wednesday and Thursday, $8.50 on Friday, $10.50 on Saturday, and two shows on Sunday, a matinee for $5 at 3 p.m. and the evening concert for $7 at 10 p.m. :
Once in Framingham, Bradley and Failows got settled into their motel room and caught as many Armstrong sets as possible. Here’s an ad Bradley clipped from the January 25 Boston Record-American:
Before we get to the photos, here’s Bradley and Failows’s recap in Coda magazine:
“The following night [The All Stars] bussed northward to Framingham (suburb of Boston) Mass. where they appeared at the Monticello for ten glorious days. We know – because we followed them there for one of the most fantastic weeks in our lives. Hearing Pops play each night was enough to kill us – we are still in a state of supreme shock. The place was jam packed most every night so we were content to do our digging from the wings. Most memorable was Louis playing a knocked out version of St. James.
“Backstage was kicks galore – as always Louis dressing room is a gathering place for those long magnetized by him. In this case his back stage buddies included Max Jones (one of the three Jones Boys, musicians known around the Boston area) from New Orleans who brought Louis some down home soul food one night—Pops put aside his diet for a few hours. Also there and grinning were trumpeters Mayo Duca and Billy Marshall, who Pops digs very much and who are both hysterical where Louis is concerned. Louis’ golden horn outshines them all. He blew and blew and blew with every evening’s music seeming to cap that of the night previous.
“We really had a ball – listening to him, looking at him, telling him jokes – trying to recall how he told us the ones he gave us belly laughs with, walking in the snow with Pops – listening to his stories – old and new and being treated in that special way he has of treating those around him – all we can say is ‘thanks, Pops.'”
Interestingly, one almost throwaway line towards the end of that passage led to a startling new discovery for us at the Armstrong Archives and changed the whole course of this post. Jack Bradley’s collection is nothing short of monumental but Jack himself did not have the greatest memory in the world. Below you will find a series of memorable photos of Louis in his dressing room. I was hired in 2009 specifically to arrange, catalog and preserve Jack’s collection and was immediately taken by those photos, each of which had handwritten notes on back stating they were taken in Lambertville, NJ in 1964. Sure enough, the All Stars performed at the Lambertville Music Circus on August 17, 1964 and that edition of the group matched the musicians pictured in the photos so I never questioned it…
…until putting together this Bradley series, when I was struck by the line from the above Coda column, “walking in the snow with Pops.
Hmmm, I’m from New Jersey and it snows in New Jersey–but not in August. I consulted the negatives that contained the aforementioned dressing room photos and sure enough, this was the first one in the series: Jeann Failows outside of the motel with snow on the ground!
Thus, bless Jack Bradley and his memory but no, none of the photos he marked as Lambertville were actually taken there and were instead taken at Caesar’s Monticello during this January 1965 run. It made more sense as instead of a one-nighter in Lambertville, Jack used up multiple rolls of film film in Framingham, capturing Louis onstage and off, in different uniforms and offstage outfits. Jack even saved a souvenir menu, reproduced here in full:
With all of that out of the, let’s dig into the amazing photos Bradley took in Framingham, opening with a serious-looking Louis signing autographs in his dressing room (note Jack’s reflection in the mirror on the right side of the photo):
What is Louis signing? A close-up in this photo shows him autographing the back of the Hello, Dolly! LP:
If you look in the mirror of the above photo, Louis is getting into uniform, but his bowtie is untied and he still looks a bit solemn. In the next photo, the tie is tied but an explanation is offered for his subdued appearance–Pops needs some coffee!
Not to mention a cigarette:
Infused with caffeine and nicotine, Armstrong reached for his trumpet to begin warming up, as depicted in the next series of photos:
Perhaps feeling that taking so many photos of Armstrong warming up could be a bit intrusive, Bradley trained his camera on the other All Stars in the room, starting with clarinetist Eddie Shu, also warming up:
Bassist Arvell Shaw, also looking in need of a caffeine fix:
Trombonist Russell “Big Chief” Moore in what would prove to be one of his final engagements with the All Stars:
Yet Bradley couldn’t resist going back to his favorite subject, even if Armstrong was still on the quiet side. Bradley remained proud off this series, writing a note on the back of the following print (again, ignore the mistaken venue identification): “Here’s a somewhat weary and introspective shot of Pops resting between shows in his dressing room at the Lambertville Music Circus in New Jersey. I was shooting with my Rolleiflex that day – in fact you can almost make me out reflected in the mirror at the top left. As usual, Tri-X with available light. Can you imagine the consequences with a flash under these circumstances? – mirror, subject nearly asleep.”
Eventually, Armstrong reached back for his horn, continuing the warming up process:
Finally, something causes Armstrong to smile:
And then sufficiently warmed up and caffeinated and in the presence of friends, Armstrong shares a genuine laugh:
One of those friends present was multi-instrumentalist Billy Marshall, who played trumpet in Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra in the early 1950s and, according to a letter from Marshall to Bradley, was playing saxophone in bands in the 1960s. Marshall was also a record collector who sent Armstrong multiple reel-to-reel tapes featuring early recordings of cornet virtuosos such as Herbert L. Clarke. Here’s Marshall in discussion with Armstrong:
Marshall was a repeat visitor and on another night in the Monticello residency, returned to show Armstrong one of his cornets. Here’s Louis examining the mouthpiece:
Marshall giving it a blow:
Apparently, Louis didn’t give it a try, but he did examine it, as seen in the following two Bradley photos:
Yet when it came time to actually blowing a horn, Armstrong once again went for his Selmer trumpet and not Marshall’s cornet:
With all of these backstage and warming up photos out of the way, let’s get to the onstage performances, which Bradley was able to capture from a variety of angles. Here he is in the wings shooting from behind Arvell Shaw’s perch as Armstrong takes a dramatically lit vocal:
Bradley then went over to the other side of the wings to get this powerful image, demonstrating Louis’s placement in the front line, standing back and letting his sound project:
Bradley also got some nice shots from the audience. Louis was lit beautifully at Caesar’s Monticello, something we’ll also note when we get to Bradley’s photos of Armstrong there in 1967:
Some dramatic photos of Jewel Brown (the last surviving All Star) during her features:
There’s something about this photo of Armstrong that makes a humorous compliment to the above shot of Brown:
Apparently the All Stars only did one 90-minute set at Monticello so Brown’s presence on stage marks these as the finale, most likely “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” topped by a chorus of “Hello, Dolly!”
Armstrong waves good night as the All Stars leave the stage:
But the prolonged cheers of the crowd lead Armstrong to take one more curtain call, his tie now loosened–this is a personal favorite Bradley photo of mine:
As Bradley made his way backstage, he noticed the line forming outside of Pops’s dressing room and snapped a pic to set the scene:
Armstrong, looking a bit weary after emptying his nearly 64-year-old tank onstage, immediately went into autograph mode:
The man and the woman in this photo are technically unidentified, but reading through Bradley and Failows’s Coda column, there’s a strong chance that this is Mayo Duca, a Boston-based trumpeter who was responsible for turning Ruby Braff on to Pops. Duca was also a collector and appears on some of Louis’s private tapes, always welcomed when the trumpeter was in Boston. There still seems to be members of the Duca family in the Massachusetts area and I know one left a comment on the Louis Armstrong House Museum Facebook page some years back–if anyone out there can confirm this is Mayo Duca (and if there are any surviving artifacts from his friendship with Armstrong), please leave a comment!
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the above man was just a fan. Bradley took a number of photos of Armstrong with fans, such as the following series (though again, if anyone can identify these folks, let us know–are you out there, little girl??):
That concludes our look, through Jack Bradley’s camera, of Louis Armstrong’s January 1965 run at Caesar’s Monticello in Framingham, Massachusetts. Armstrong returned to New York immediately after to prepare for a television taping of the Bell Telephone Hour on February 2. Once again, Armstrong would invite Bradley to both the rehearsal and the taping and once again, we’ll have those photos to share in the next installment of this series.