Itís a love storyÖand a social commentary.
Itís fictionÖbut itís real!
Itís a case of mistaken identityÖor is it?
It's about courage and despair and hope; definitely hope.
Itís a Jazz Opera with Dave Brubeck at his very best.
Act One finds a fictional version of our beloved "Pops" (Louis Armstrongís nickname within the business, but Satchmo to the world) and his entourage embarking on a Cold War Concert tour as an ambassador of goodwill for the U.S. State Department.
The irony is not lost on Pops. "Though he represents the government, the government donít represent" him or the millions of black Americans still laboring under the weight of Jim Crow. A last minute schedule change lands the troupe in ENO-L'LA, a small African country on the verge independence and celebrating the eve an annual festival.
Local officials, expecting the official U. S. ambassador mistake our troupe for the U. S. dignitaries and whisk them away to the palace just as the festival's first night reveling begins.
The next day, according to local custom, the king allows the people to elect one of the villagers "king for one day." Having won their hearts with his wailing jazz trumpet, our unwitting Pops is chosen as their temporary monarch.
Pops seizes this opportunity to test a long-standing theory of his: If all the Heads of State could gather under the auspices of playing jazz (be it a trumpet or a common pair of spoons) and merge all their musical differences to find common ground, so too could their political differences be reconciled. The invitations are sent and the festival continues.
At the heart of this comedy of errors are two star-crossed inter-racial/inter-faith love affairs.
Act Two thickens the plot with the arrival of the real U.S. Ambassador and the unavoidable fall out with King Louis. Wrongly accused of usurping the Ambassador's title as a cheap publicity stunt, Pops is publicly humiliated and retreats in disgrace, lamenting the irony of his true status as Ambassador of Jazz to the world while being regarded as a second-class citizen at home.
Just when it seems that all is lost, the invited foreign dignitaries begin to arrive for Pops ' "Ultimate Jam Session" reminding us that "WE" are the instruments of change... And that is, as they say... "The Livin' End!"