Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo," a trumpeter and singer born in New Orleans who went on to become one of America's most esteemed jazz musicians and - as its cultural ambassador - introduced jazz to the world, was also a visual artist whose creativity is currently on display in Reel-to-Real: Louis Armstrong Collages at the New Orleans Jazz Museum as a component of Prospect 4, New Orleans' annual, citywide art exhibition. In the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, a collection of Armstrong's reel-to-reel tape boxes decorated with his handmade collages are on loan from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, N.Y., where the trumpeter and his wife Lucille lived from 1943 until his death in 1971.
The show includes 28 square tape boxes out of the more than 500-piece collection of boxes and scrapbooks Armstrong created over more than 20 years. His reel-to-reel tapes, recording performances, radio interviews, commentary and other audio, were often gifts to friends and family. Armstrong would glue newspaper clippings, photographs of fellow musicians and movie stars or other ephemera with sentimental quotations onto the box covers. Louis Armstrong’s reel to reel tape box collages have never been shown in New Orleans before the current display in the New Orleans Jazz Museum.