I have always been in awe of Louis Armstrong's (1901-1971) and Ella Fitzgerald's (1917-1996) extraordinary musicianship and creative improvisations, hence the title, I like Louis and Ella. They performed and recorded together in the 1940s through the 1960s. In the 1950s they produced three duet records: two Ella and Louis albums, and their Porgy and Bess album.
I thought the best way to begin to understand their music was to imitate them. I sought to emulate Louis' warm humanity and musical efficiency—just the right note at the right time—and Ella's skillful and musically satisfying scat singing. There is only one quote in I Like Louis and Ella, the opening trumpet statement, but the rest of the music was written as my own impressions of their unique stylings.
I am grateful to my former student, Kyle Tolstyka, for commissioning this piece to benefit the horn scholarship fund at Eastern Michigan University. Thanks go to the donors to the scholarship fund in support of this project—my former horn students, Tania Dupuis, Liesl Caarn Hansen, Dr. William Cederquist and his parents, Dr. Jack Cederquist and Meg Kennedy-Shaw. Finally, I would like to thank jazz greats Phil Sims, the engraver of this music; and Adam Unsworth, horn professor at the University of Michigan, for their invaluable advice.
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