Wynton Marsalis Takes Louis Armstrong’s Trumpet Out of the Museum & Plays It Again

Louis Armstrong’s beloved trumpet sits in the Smithsonian–a relic of a grand tradition of American music. When it first became a museum piece, the brass-and-gold instrument, made in Paris after World War II, wasn’t in working condition. Dwandalyn Reece, the culture curator at The Smithsonian, notes:  “It wasn’t playable when it got here… There was a lacquer coating on it to help prevent tarnish. We looked to see if there were any spots where the lacquer impacted the valves. There were areas where the valves were a little sticky so we wanted to make sure they would flow freely.” Once restored, they put the instrument in the right hands. Above, watch Wynton Marsalis, the nine-time Grammy winner, playing Satchmo’s Selmer trumpet last fall.

Marsalis later commented, “It sounded better than I thought it would sound.” Apparently, it’s the first time an historic instrument from the Smithsonian’s collection has been put back into real service.

via The Smithsonian/@TedGioia

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Watch the Earliest Known Footage of Louis Armstrong Performing Live in Concert (Copenhagen, 1933)

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Louis Armstrong Plays Historic Cold War Concerts in East Berlin & Budapest (1965)

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  • Charles Kemp says:

    I didn’t know that Louis Armstrong’s trumpet is in the Smithsonian. He inspired a lot of people and there are a lot of people that would love to have a trumpet as good as that one. I think it would be cool to learn from the best trumpet player.

  • Elaine Lauzon says:

    So good to hear it again! What a man Louie was! Wynnton Marsalis did him great honour! Thanks so much!

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