In this series, renowned pianist Jools Holland travels through the USA in search of the roots of jazz, blues, soul and rock’n’roll. In each programme he visits a historically significant building in a different city and talks to fellow musicians, historians and other interested parties to build up a picture of how a particular music has developed, and to explore the communities that grow up around that music today.
And because it’s Jools, he can’t turn down the opportunity to play a bit as well!
In the first episode Jools Holland leaves his week-long series of concerts at New York’s famous Blue Note Café to visit the modest house in the NYC suburb of Queens where Jools’ hero trumpeter Louis Armstrong spent the majority of his adult life. Lucille Armstrong bought 56 107th St, Corona in 1943 without bothering to tell her husband, and despite his initial misgivings Louis lived – and actually died there in 1971, at the centre of a community that grew to include African American jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie alongside the regular working class residents.
Jools’ guests - including Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hiseman and leading Armstrong expert Ricky Riccardi - discuss how Armstrong invented jazz as we know it today, and via archive we hear from Satchmo himself (and Lucille!).
And there’s live music too, as Jools commandeers Armstrong’s own piano for a set of jazz classics with Ricky Riccardi and rising young trumpet star Joe Boga.
In future weeks Jools travels to Nashville, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta to explore country, blues, soul & rock’n’roll. He’ll be meeting people like Nashville stars Brad Paisley, Marty Stuart and Kacey Musgraves, 19 year old blues prodigy Kingfish and legendary Memphis producer Boo Mitchell, visiting Elvis’ birthplace & the Memphis apartment where he lived as a teenager. Jools also visits the site of Muddy Water’s plantation cabin and the studio where modern country music was born, and plays with the likes of Little Big Town, the North Mississippi Allstars and the teenage students of the Stax Music Academy who represent the future of soul music.
BBC World Service, ep 1 - Sunday 16 September 2000-2100 BST