Satchmo and Ella – music their way | VailDaily.com
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Satchmo and Ella – music their way

Wren Wertin

Louis Armstrong sang those words to Ella Fitzgerald in “Hello Dolly,” and he sings them again in “Jammin’ with Pops.” The musical is being presented at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Written by Tony nominee Barry Harman, “Jammin with Pops” tells the story of Ella and Louis – the people they were separately and the music they made together. The play begins after a performance of Louis and the All Stars in the mid 1960s. The men are tired, but Ella wanders backstage for a surprise visit, feeling a little blue.

Rising to the challenge, Louis and his cohorts start an impromptu jam, hoping to coax Ella out of her mood. Always a little reticent, Ella doesn’t want to give up the reason she’s down, but Louis won’t take no for an answer. Music and reminiscing can be a deadly combination.

“Sunny Side of the Street,” “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “A Tisket a Tasket,” “When You’re Smilin’,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Our Love is Here to Stay,” “S’Wonderful,” “How High the Moon,” “The Music Goes Round and Round,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “Lady Be Good,” “The Man I Love” – and that’s just Act One. Music makes their world go ’round.

“I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them,” Ira Gerswin once said.

As the music unfolds, so do the stories of their lives. The scatting Ella, the bi-ba-be-bopping Louis – they weren’t always big names with big careers. Ella is more secretive and private than Louis, who does everything he can to tease out the story from Ella. Ella was known for letting her songs, not her, do all the talking. Eventually, she gets in the groove and shares along with him.

Though it may seem impossible, there’s more music in the second act. “Porgy and Bess” can’t be left out.

In addition to two Tony nominations, Harman has three Outer Critics Circle Awards and three Drama Desk nominations. His works include “Romance/Romance,” “Olympus On My Mind” and “Femme Fatale.” He began his writing career in television, namely “All In The Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “The Carol Burnett Show.”

For more information on “Jammin’ with Pops,” contact the Vilar Center at http://www.VilarCenter.org or 845-TIXS.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.


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