June 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Curio Corner

Compilation: Louis Armstrong Vol. 2;
Naxosís Jazz Legends series: Original recordings 1930-1933: Iíve got the world on a string; Blue, turning grey over you; I got rhythm; Star dust; Confessiní (that I love you); When itís sleepy time down south; Iíll be glad when youíre dead, you rascal you; The Lonesome road; The peanut vendor; Hobo, you canít ride this train; Thatís my home; I gotta right to sing the blues; Snowball; Sweet Sue, just you; Basin Street blues; Dusky stevedore; Thereís a cabin in the pines; St Louis Blues.  
  NAXOS 8.120609   [58:37]

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is one of the all time greats of Jazz and will forever live in the memory of aficionados of the traditional and modern scenes. This latest album "I've Got The World On A String", provides a stark reminder of why Louis was one of those greats. But, to be honest, I really felt that for once the music had just become too dated, too predictable, too old! Maybe some things, even as great as Louis, can't last forever or maybe it's just my age!

I felt curiously depressed listening to the first (and title) track, followed by 'Blue, Turning Grey Over You' and then later on 'Snowball' which, although classic and mellow Jazz numbers, failed to inspire me. Louis admittedly 'ups the ante' with the pulsing 'Stardust' and performs magnificently in 'I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues'. Both numbers evoking the glorious years of the burgeoning popularity of Jazz particularly in the period between the two World Wars.

Sadly, though, many of the tracks seemed to me to be so naive and antiquated now, that listening to them felt like the equivalent of watching a silent movie in a modern Dolby surround sound cinema. This of course isn't Louis' fault, but mine, and to a lesser extent the passage of time. However, to be honest that's how it seemed to me. I wonder how you'll feel?

The tracks 'Sweet Sue', 'Just You' and 'There's A Cabin In The Pines' offered little hope of anything further from the great man, and soon I longed for the 'Wonderful World' that first introduced me to Louis and his music. Perhaps the only truly, for me, quintessential Louis Armstrong songs are 'The Lonesome Road' and 'St Louis Blues', which bring out the best of his trumpet and his unmistakable voice, reminding one of the reasons why Louis managed to prolong his career so successfully until his untimely and premature death.

So, an album for the melancholy, for those wishing to hark back to the good old days and for those who still appreciate the finer aspects of Louis' music, but for me a disappointing, but not altogether surprising, experience.

Jonathan Clark


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