Armstrong NOW! at Hudson Hall
An Evening of Spoken Word & Music Featuring Daniel J. Watts
Thursday, February 17th, 7pm, Hudson Hall.
I was not expecting to learn the proper way to blow a kiss that night, but I did. Daniel J. Watts, and the jazz ensemble at Hudson Hall started out the evening blazing! Daniel J. Watts’ spoken word piece, describing the differences between country and city living, was an onomatopoeia word stew, with accompanying jazz instruments adding to the sounds of wind, traffic, and city life.
As Watts described his life experiences, we agreed to “meet in the middle”, and acknowledge, recognize, accept, respect, and appreciate each other, bringing us to a space where we can all celebrate and have gratitude in life.
Daniel J. Watts performed a detailed, rhythmic, and loving demonstration of how his grandmother blew kisses – and how he would catch them, rubbing the “kisses” and love into his skin.
The show was a musical overview of jazz and its connection to African-American culture in the US. “Jazz was invented in a black woman’s kitchen.” says Watts. The performance described the sights, smells, tastes, spices as well as the emotions behind preparing a simple family meal, such as fish heads. His spoken words drew you closer. You were on the edge of your seat, actively listening; not sitting back, waiting to be entertained. You were connected, and bonded, to the African-American experience, which for some can be so distant, even if it’s just around the corner.
The evening’s show was also a reminder that Black History Month, and learning about Black History, can happen beyond the month of February. Daniel J. Watts was “planting my words in the dirt, for a new species of flower.”
The program was co-presented by the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, which catalogues over 60,000 items – video and audio (many reel to reel tapes) – pieces from Louis Armstrong’s life, including him reading the paper and arguing with his wife.
“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!”