I learned earlier today Phoebe Jacobs passed away this weekend. Phoebe was unique in every way. She made things happen. As the Executive Vice President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, she made my book Satchmo (Abrams) happen and as my friend she is responsible for my upcoming book on Duke Ellington (Rizzoli) with his granddaughter Mercedes. She was not only a great champion of Armstrong and jazz but of all those she believed and cared about. It was through her eyes and with her generosity that I got to know Louis, and I dedicated the book to her.
Her early job as a hat check girl at the New York City club Kelly’s Stable brought her into the world of jazz, and she went on to work for Joe Glaser and Oscar Cohen’s Associated Booking Corp Agency, representing all the greats of jazz of the 20th century, such as Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington and Peggy Lee. She was also Louis and Lucille Armstrong’s personal assistant and worked as an editor at Simon and Schuster.
She was responsible for the exhibition: “THE COLLAGE AESTHETIC OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG – In the Cause of Happiness” currently on view at Flushing Town Hall. If you haven’t seen it you should head on out, it’s great to see Louis’ collages the size of posters.
There’s a terrific interview with Phoebe here”\
Phoebe was in her early 90s. I’m going to miss her inexorable spirit. To paraphrase Duke, I loved her madly.
Photos: Phoebe at Barnes and Noble book signing in NYC, March 2009; Phoebe, Stanley Crouch and myself discussing Satchmo that night; Phoebe with Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.