Louis Armstrong w/Leon Thomas – The Creator Has a Master Plan


Louis Armstrong


Leon Thomas


Listen – Louis Armstrong with Leon Thomas – The Creator Has a Master Plan – MP3″

Greetings all.

When we last spoke, I hinted that there were some major changes in the offing.
Indeed there are.
I haven’t ever gone into detail on this subject before, so bear with me. Here at the Funky16Corners compound, there’s me (the big Corner), my wife (the pretty one) and two little Corners of the future. Both of my sons, in addition to being wonderful, loving, smart and funny, have what are euphemistically known as “special needs”.
My oldest has a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum, and my youngest has developmental delays. Though they are both “high functioning”, both of them have had difficulties in commercial daycare. As a result, my wife and I put our heads together, and we decided that for the well being of all concerned, I would take family leave so that I could stay home with the kids.
I’ve gone into some detail in this space before about how the industry I work in has been in a precipitous decline for the last year or so, with huge layoffs at our location (I work at a newspaper that’s part of a huge national chain). The forecast for the industry as a whole is grim, and in an odd bit of coincidence, last week (after I’d already set up my family leave) they announced a furlough, in which all employees would be forced to take a week off without pay in the first quarter.
I’ve worked at this paper for 24 years, and changed positions a number of times. Like a dot on a graph, for roughly 80% of that time the changes were all positive/upwardly mobile, having to do with the increasingly sophisticated technology of the operation. Unfortunately, the last few years have seen the line on the graph plummet as I was downsized out of one position (in IT) into one I was grossly overqualified for. I managed to work my way out of that into something much better, but by the time I was up and running in my current position, the folks at corporate were already running wild, cutting the heart out of the business.
As a result, when we “did the math” (since my wife is securely employed) we decided that at least until the boys were both in school full time (a few years out), I would be recast in the role of stay-at-home Dad.
The odd thing is, despite my long history on the job, I couldn’t be happier about this. I get to spend more time with my sons, and more importantly provide them with a much better environment than they’d get at a day care center (and believe me, we have had enough experience in that department to know that). Though I’ve always enjoyed work more when it presented an intellectual challenge, I’ve never (EVER) depended on work for satisfaction or growth in that regard.
Work has never been my life, but rather something I’ve done so that I can live my life outside of work.
So, as of Monday January 19th 2009, I begin a new chapter in my life.
Things here at the blog should pretty much remain the same. I suspect that new austerity measures will stem the tide of new vinyl in the Funky16Corners crates, but as I’ve related here countless times, I have more than enough on hand to last a good, long time.
Though I can’t say for sure, I suspect that any stress that has manifested itself in the blog(s) is likely to ebb, and that is  – of course – a positive development.
And, if you’re a representative of a major media organization who’s been looking to hire a blogger. Now’s the time!
In celebration of this new era, I bring you a truly unusual selection with a vibe that I think sets the tone for this great leap forward.
If the title ‘Creator Has a Master Plan (Peace)’ sounds familiar, it may be via the original, classic version by Pharoah Sanders (also featuring the vocals of Leon Thomas) from his 1969 ‘Karma’ LP , though that version lasted more than 30 minutes and included a huge helping of free/out sound exploration.
The version I bring you today is a very unusual artifact from the twilight years of the mighty Louis Armstrong. I have to admit that I was ignorant of the existence of the ‘Louis Armstrong and His Friends’ LP until it came up in conversation over at Soulstrut a few years back. Late in the Spring of 1970, Bob Thiele (of the Impulse and Flying Dutchman labels) brought Armstrong and an all star group (led by arranger Oliver Nelson)into the studio. The resulting session can charitably be described as wavering back and forth between bizarre and banal. Armstrong works his way through a couple of old-school numbers, and a few very strange attempts at current material like ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Everybody’s Talkin’, but there’s also one completely unexpected gem. That gem is – not coincidentally – Satchmo’s version of ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’.
Thomas and Armstrong split the vocals here, with the first verse provided by the former, and the chorus by the latter, before Leon falls by with the spiritual yodeling and then what you end up with is an odd, and oddly appealing, one time only, intersection of easy listening, avant garde spiritual jazz, flower power and that essence of starshine that Satchmo carried with him from the streets of New Orleans, all over the world and back again to the studio on Wednesday May 27, 1970 where the old, the new and the in-between all sat down and meshed for a few unlikely minutes.
While there’s none of the earthy, tenor explosions of Sanders, this version does touch on the original in places. Thiele was the producer on both sessions, and in addition to Thomas, the great James Spaulding plays flute on both versions.
The temptation – once you’ve heard both versions – is to see a huge divide between the two, but I’d suggest that you step back a bit, take it all in, and you might just start to realize how much there is connecting the two.
That said, dig the tune, wish me luck on my new endeavor, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio.



PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for something grooovy from Dudley Moore!?!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has finally been updated.

21 Responses to “Louis Armstrong w/Leon Thomas – The Creator Has a Master Plan”

  1. Captain Wrong Says:

    Best of luck to you. It’s scary times out there, I got friends in both newspapers and IT who are all sweating right now (I got out of IT myself and doubt I could find a way back in if I needed.) The transition is weird, I’ve done it myself, in a sense. It’s hard but with two sons you’ll be getting to see more of I’m sure it’ll be rewarding.

  2. Tom Havers Says:

    God Speed Larry! I hope your transition is a smooth one and allows for your stellar posts to continue.

  3. B Says:

    I love the Flying Dutchman label. More!

  4. B Says:

    …and of course, best of luck this year!

  5. Tony C Says:

    Good for you Larry. You’ve made a brave and good deciision.Our kids grow up much to quickly.So to be able to spend more time with them in their younger years (even though they can be infuriating at times!) is going to be such a huge benifit to you all.I’m envious.Once again goodluck.
    Kind regards Tony.

  6. chuffinghog Says:

    Larry, you have made a brave move that will, I sincerely hope, bring much happiness to you and your loved ones. I have also just made a major move in my own job and life and now that I am two weeks in, I know that it was the best thing I have done in years.
    Best wishes to you and thank you for all the music and for sharing your passion with us.
    Many regards

  7. Mikael Says:

    Good luck Larry!

    I also have two sons (one with an autism diagnosis), and my wife is the one with the better income which means I stay home more with the kids. And I agree with you, there’s no better way to spend your time.

    And thanks for broadening my musical horizons.

    Mikael in Sweden

  8. James Says:

    wishing a great, happy 2009 to you and the fam.

  9. Steve M. Says:

    Leaving the stress of Gannett behind will not be a bad thing. It’s a tough time for us ink-stained wretches.

  10. John Harrison Says:

    Wow! I’m a stay at home dad during the summer and a special ed teacher the rest of the year. I was a 6 day a week stay at home dad for a year in Germany and the experience nearly overwhelmed me. Having one day out of the house teaching English saved me.

    Have you seen the Wright’s law website? They are a bit too behaviorist for my tastes and are strong advocates for parents over school districts rights (in my biased opinion) but it’s a great place for information when your kids go through the special ed maze. They also send out a newsletter.
    Best of luck,

  11. TG Chicago Says:

    Best to you, Larry! Enjoy some less-stressful days and more time with your kids!

  12. Ray Says:

    Good news, hopefully will take the stress off you Larry.
    Enjoy the extra time with your sons.

  13. The Wolfmen Says:

    Good luck with everything and thank you for the music (ignore the Abba reference)

  14. frits jonker Says:


  15. Pablo Says:

    Hi Larry, kudos to you & your wife for making the decision and the best of luck. Can I suggest this site: http://humans.org.nz/ which was started by Russell Brown, a journalist here in New Zealand who has a son on the spectrum. He also has a blog that features music, politics etc, I expect the two of you would get on well!

  16. Noam Says:

    I am grateful for this spot on the Internets, where I can soothe my soul jones. Seriously – this is one of the absolute best spots any music fan can land. I’m a musician, and I thought I was pretty smart…but you consistently educate me.

    Your 2 kids are very lucky to have you. Wish you, and them, the very best as you start this new chapter. As many great soul men (and women) have said,

    Everything’s gonna be allright!

  17. W Says:

    Hats off to you! Best of luck going forward. I just sent a donation to the site to keep your vinyl spinning, (wish it could have been more but I work in IT myself!) Keep blogging!

  18. Paul Duane Says:

    Great post, I can’t add anything to what the previous posters have have said but – the best of luck!

  19. Watne Hale Says:

    What a heart warming account of your life and the life of your family thus far. I write this comment in the kindred spirit of being a father who lovingly raised an autistic son, Joshua, who was later re-classified as having Auberger’s. Joshua is now a vibrant, “I can do anything you can do, better” 26 year old, and (I might add) one who wears his high school ring, as a badge of honor. As far as Joshua is concern, the sky is the limit! (write me wayne.rhale@verizon.net)

    In 1969, there was a radio station, in Philly (PA), with the call letters, WDAS FM, a very progressive station, pretty much in the manner of WPFW (FM) Pacifica radio, is today. Along in Philly was and still is, WDAS/FM, Temple University radio station, along with it’s African American Studies program, was and is in tune with broadcasting this rich, uniquely American music along with its rich contemporary and historic legacy. It was one one of these stations that I recall listening to the creative origins of the song, entitled, “The Creator has a Master Plan”. As I understand it, the lyrics should be a tribute to Armstrong’s wife’s believe as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is about God’s Universal purpose for earth as attributed in the ‘Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13) and as expressed in Daniel 2:44-45).

    Correspondingly, the song entitled, “Prince of Peace”, also produced by Leon Thomas, with a rendition on Youtube.com with Pharoah Sanders, also refers to the Prince of Peace who will rule over God’s Kingdom, as expressed in the Book of Isiah 9:6 and Revelation 10:12.

    Lastly, the account’s credibility is rooted in the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching that the Bible teaches about only one God, Jevovah or Yahweh (YHWH), is out of harmony with most it not all christian religions (who teaches that God is a Trinity; 3 persons in one God), and is more in harmony with the Islamic teaching of the Koran, which teaches a very core belief that there is only one God, Allah (translated, The God), and of whom Leon Thomas found aspirations from for his lyrics(e.g., Um-Allah, Etc.). I’m sure it will make a fancinating read, someday!

  20. Watne Hale Says:

    Correction: Temple University’s radio station call letters is:

    WRTI/FM I don’t remeber the FM band numbers, sorry.

  21. Ron Gang Says:

    Came across your blog googling for the complete lyrics of the song, which I’m working on with my band. First heard Leon Thomas (Live In Berlin) around 1971 on a late night radio show and have been intrigued by the song since then. My bass player, born around 1980, really digs it.
    Thanks for posting the Armstrong/Thomas rendition. It’s really much to short and crowded – would have been nice to open it up to give everybody time and sonic space in which to develop the groove, especially to hear Satchamo flow. Alas, I will have to wait until I reach that land where “rainbows are but shadow of a love that’s so divine” to hear him, and maybe jam with Louis as well. I’m in no hurry, though.

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