Struttin' with some Barbecue

MONA FOMA, Theatre Royal, Hobart 15 January, 2014


Composition, arrangement, co-direction, trumpet
Eugene Ball

Co-direction, laptop electronics, trumpet
Peter Knight

Voice, sampler

Video installation, design
Sabina Maselli

Linzee R. Nold

Piano, melodica
Paul Grabowsky

Drums, text
Allan Browne

Phil Noy

Sam Pankhurst

Brett Thompson

Tim Jones

Martin Ng

Matthias Schack-Arnott

"Struttin' dissects the sound and legacy of Louis Armstrong and reassembles it through a 21st century improvised perspective. It's not a tribute. It's an abstract homage telling the story of Satchmo from more than one perspective at once. Plus yours.

If Louis Armstrong went to the moon instead of Neil Armstrong it would have sounded like this.’"

- Brian Ritchie, Curator


Struttin' with Some Barbecue is the third in a series of Australian Art Orchestra responses to the jazz canon. Following Sandy Evan’s extraordinary tribute to Charlie Parker Testimony, and the exploration of Miles Davis’ life Prince of Darkness, Struttin’ is a contemporary work that responds not just to Louis Armstrong’s incredible music, but also to his fascinating life story. Struttin’ reimagines some of his best-loved and most significant works, as well as presenting new pieces that pay tribute to his bold, adventurous and pioneering spirit.

Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. With his Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings of the mid-twenties Louis defined the future of the jazz solo as a virtuosic departure from the melody – a laser beam of clarity piercing the polyphonic cacophony of New Orleans jazz. The world at large came to know him through his rambunctious vocals and his ever-present ‘dippermouth’ grin, but what lay behind the façade?

Louis Armstrong was an inveterate letter writer and Struttin’ uses his letters as a way into the story of his life and as a device to avoid chronological narrative. Armstrong is often portrayed as the smiling entertainer, but behind this was a great deal of pain. Struttin’ takes his pain as a starting point, reframing the exuberant façade and engaging with his extraordinary his musical achievements: Armstrong invented the idea of the jazz solo and turned Tin Pan Alley trash into art. He made the high art/low art connection and revolutionised singing through the invention of scat.

Conceived and composed by Eugene Ball and AAO Artistic Director, Peter Knight, the musical concept for Struttin’ interweaves the sounds of contrasting approaches sourced from the diverse musicians of the Australian Art Orchestra along with special guests, drummer/poet and Melbourne icon, Allan Browne, world renowned Sydney-based turntablist, Martin Ng, and Papua New Guinea born world pop sensation, Ngaiire.

Struttin’ also features the work of iconoclastic Tasmanian cartoonist, Linzee R. Nold in a video installation component created by film artist Sabina Maselli.

Performance history

Wagarratta Jazz & Blues Festival, WPAC Theatre, 31 October 2014
MONA FOMA, Theatre Royal, Hobart 15 January, 2014