Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Longineu Parsons Channels Louis Armstrong
Palm Beach Pops Brings New Orleans to Boca Raton
By Skip Sheffield
Jazz great Louis “Satchemo” Armstrong departed this Earth on July 6, 1971, just a month short of his 70th birthday. His spirit will live forever in American music. That living spirit is embodied by countless musicians who have paid tribute to Armstrong’s music, trumpet playing, songwriting and humanist philosophy.
One of the leading proponents of Armstrong’s New Orleans musical heritage is Longineu Parsons.
Paying tribute to Louis Armstrong is not the only thing Parsons does. For the past 19 years he has been Associate Professor of Trumpet at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He is loved and respected by his students. It just so happens he is best-known for his uncanny recreation of the character Louis Armstrong- though Longineu bears no physical resemblance to the shorter, more rotund trumpeter.
“It wasn’t like I tried to `do’ Louis,” Parsons explained recently by telephone. “But for some reason his spirit comes channeling. I thought wow, I can do this.”
Yes he can, as Parsons joyously proved again in concerts at Kravis Center, FAU Kaye Auditorium, and Eissey Campus Theatre with Bob Lappin and the Palm Beach Pops, with additional guest soloist Lillias White.
The Palm Beach Pops were all warmed up and smoking-hot opening night in Boca Raton. Part of the fun of this 20-year-old cultural treasure is that conductor Bob Lappin has grown exponentially as an all-around entertainer. Lappin has always been an excellent pianist, but as host he has loosened up with his patter; singing, joking and in general making the audience his personal friend. The “Salute to Louis Armstrong Wonderful World” show was the most fun I’ve ever had at a Palm Beach Pops concert. Longineu Parsons, who first performed with the Palm Beach Pops in 1993, will no doubt be back.
Bob Lappin and his highly-polished gang of pros will be back next time with a George and Ira Gershwin tribute, featuring once again the amazing vocalist Lillias White. They will be at Kravis Center Feb. 29 and March 1; FAU March 2, 5 and 6 and Eissey March 3. Call 561-832-7677 or go to www.palmbeachpos.org.