SATCHMO IN THE 40s
Louis Armstrong with various musicians including: Luis Russell-piano,director,
The Mills Brothers, Sidney Bechet-clarinet,soprano saxophone, Barney
Bigard-clarinet, Peanuts Hucko-clarinet, Kid Ory-trombone, Jack Teagarden-trombone,
Zutty Singleton-drums, Cozy Cole-drums, Big Sid Catlett-drums, Billie
Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald.
Recorded 1940 - 1949 CENTENARY ISSUE ( August 4, 1901 - July 6, 1971
ASV LIVING ERA
CD AJA 5402
1. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
2. Wolverine Blues
3. Marie ( with the Mills Brothers )
4. Sweethearts On Parade
5. Perdido Street Blues
6. 2:19 Blues (Mamie's Blues
7. Down In Honky Tonk Town
8. Coal Cart Blues
9. You Won't Be Satisfied ( with Ella Fitzgerald )
10. Mahogany Hall Stomp
11. Black And Blue
12. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? ( with Billie
13. Ain't Misbehavin'
14. Back O' Town Blues
15. Save It, Pretty Mama
16. Jack, Armstrong Blues
17. Rockin' Chair
18. Muskrat Ramble
19. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
20. That Lucky Old Sun
The appeal of Louis Armstrong was, and remains, universal.
People who know nothing about jazz and avoid listening to the music
recognise and enjoy the work of Armstrong. My ten year old son Max,
who has quite catholic tastes, on hearing this disc described it as
"cool", surely the greatest accolade from someone of his generation.
Further proof of this appreciation of the music offered here was illustrated
by the disappearance of this C.D. - I had to retrieve it from his bedroom
to write this review !
The selections on this disc cover virtually all of
the facets of the persona Armstrong presented to the public, from popular
entertainer to committed jazz musician. It has often been stated that
Louis considered himself to be, first and foremost, an entertainer and
there are some fine examples of his more "showbiz" side here, perhaps
the most outstanding being his vocal collaboration with The Mills Brothers
- a vocal group which worked with only one guitar as accompaniment and
created the rest of the band by using just their voices to imitate the
sounds of the other instruments - complete with ad-lib solos. Armstrong
fits in most effectively with this group on Irving Berlin's "Marie".
Also of note in this series of collaborations are "Do You Know What
It Means To Miss New Orleans? " ( with Billie Holiday ) and "You Won't
Be Satisfied" ( with Ella Fitzgerald ).
On the more New Orleans Jazz orientated tracks, 5 -
8 are particularly interesting in that they pair Armstrong with Sidney
Bechet on clarinet and soprano saxophone. Bechet has often been referred
to as virtually an equal to Armstrong in the early years of the music.
However, it was the trumpeter who achieved the fame - a fact which Bechet
is supposed to have resented throughout his career.
Another favourite of mine is "Mahogany Hall Stomp"
which features the band, including Kid Ory on trombone, which appeared
in the film "New Orleans". This recording illustrates the style which
has become the blueprint for many New Orleans and Dixieland bands -
even to the present day - and is played with great passion and drive.
Tracks 13 - 19 are by early editions of "The All Stars"
and are consistently excellent. The presence of Jack Teagarden on trombone
and vocals is, as ever, pure delight. This disc gives us a taste of
what was to be Armstrong's metier for the rest of his performing career
- solid performances of his personal version of New Orleans/Mainstream
Jazz interspersed with recordings of popular songs. Armstrong's trumpet
playing is majestic throughout these selections and his vocalisations
had reached maturity by this point in time. At the time of these records
the epithet "Hot" would have been used to describe them, however, I
think today's meaning of the word "Cool" is more than adequate !
P.S. The disc has disappeared once again, probably without trace, into
Max's room. Long Live Louis Armstrong !
D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living