Michael Cogswell, 66, Dies; Sustained Louis Armstrong’s Legacy


Michael Cogswell, who turned Louis Armstrong’s trove of memorabilia right into a scholarly archive and reworked the joyful trumpeter’s two-bedroom brick home in Queens into a well-liked museum, died on April 20 in Manhattan. He was 66.

And, consumed by the life and career of Armstrong, Mr. Cogswell rarely played the saxophone again.

“Before the job, there were two people in this marriage,” Ms. Van Dyke said in a phone interview. “When Louis came into Michael’s life, he came into my life, and all of a sudden there were three people in this marriage, and that was fine with me.”

“He was a beautiful guy. He was humble. He was generous. He was a genius.”

Michael Bruce Cogswell was born on Sept. 30, 1953, in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Fairfax County, Va. His father, Charles, was a marketing consultant and a former brigadier general in the Marine Corps. His mother, Margaret (Hoyt) Cogswell, was a homemaker.

After three semesters at the University of Virginia, he dropped out in 1973 and played with bands in Charlottesville, Va., and Boston. Later returning to the university, he received a bachelor’s degree in musicology in 1983.

Looking for his next step, he responded to an advertisement in an education publication for an archivist to handle the Armstrong collection. “He told me, ‘That’s my job,’” Ms. Van Dyke recalled.

Mr. Cogswell used his knowledge of the Armstrong archive to write the book “Louis Armstrong: The Offstage Story of Satchmo” (2003).

One more project occupied Mr. Cogswell for more than a decade: building a $23 million education center across the street from the Armstrong house. It will house the archives, an exhibition gallery, a jazz club and a museum store. It broke ground in 2017, nearly a year before illness caused Mr. Cogswell to retire. (The coronavirus pandemic has halted construction.)

“Michael said, ‘Thanks, where do you want to meet?’” David Ostwald, the former chairman of the Armstrong museum, said by phone. “She said, ‘I’ll meet you at the subway.’ Michael had all these official papers, but she had the trumpet in a paper bag and surreptitiously handed it to him, and she quickly disappeared.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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