Louis Armstrong – Satchmo, Pops – is one of the legends of jazz, renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing. He also has a connection to Kansas Public Radio and one of the most famous basketball games in KU history.
Louis and his band were on the KU campus for a concert on March 23, 1957. That same night, an hour to the east in Kansas City, Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks were playing for the national title against the North Carolina Tar Heels. In an epic, triple-overtime game, KU lost to Carolina 54-53. A dejected KU team came back to Lawrence at 2:15 in the morning.
Who was there to greet them? Louis Armstrong. A young KU student had a tape recorder and talked to the famous musician.
Now, almost 60 years later, KPR’s David Basse is mixing tape of the original concert, the student interview and a recently recorded interview with that young KU student – now a retired physician living in Independence, Mo. – into a one-hour special that will be broadcast on the The Jazz Scene at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 28.