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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Crotchet

Louis ARMSTRONG
Rhythm saved the world: Original recordings Volume 3: 1934-1936
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
Rec. 1934-1936
NAXOS JAZZ LEGENDS 8.120676 [58.42]

 


St Louis Blues [2.38]
Tiger Rag [3.02]
Will you, won’t you be my baby [2.44]
On the sunny side of the street [5.53]
St Louis Blues [3.01]
Song of the vipers [2.48]
Got a bran’ new suit [2.45]
I’m in the mood for love [3.03]
You are my lucky star [2.52]
I’ve got my fingers crossed [2.25]
Old man Mose [2.29]
Was I to blame for falling in love with you? [3.02]
I’m shooting high [2.48]
Thanks a million [2.35]
Solitude [2.56]
Shoe shine boy [3.15]
I hope Gabriel likes my music [3.09]
The music goes round and round [3.12]
Rhythm saved the world [2.56]

What we can be certain of is that Satchmo need not worry whether ‘Gabriel likes my music’, a hope he expresses on track 17 recorded back in December 1935; both of them are surely swinging away on the other side of the pearly gates. Not only is the music highly enjoyable but so too are the words (some of them imaginative gibberish), the scat singing (by now a dominant feature which brings further instrumental colour to Armstrong’s music-making), the amazing trumpet playing with its stratospheric confidence and accuracy, and the numerous talents to be found in his orchestra of those days, by no means names with a high-profile resonance today in jazz and blues. Naxos Jazz Legends is tracing Armstrong’s life (volumes 1 and 2 cover 1925-1930 and 1930-1933 respectively), and the result is both fascinating and entertaining. Armstrong never fails to bring a smile to the face and a tap to the foot when you are listening to him. ‘Old man Mose’ has the potential for gruesome imagery of a corpse discovered in a cabin days after death, but somehow the interplay with chorus and Armstrong’s solo verses is both witty and colourful. So too are the brief quotes which crop up every now and again in his music, from the Campdown Races to the Marseillaise - you never know what to expect next.

Transfer is excellent, noise reduction of the best standard, the playing and singing clean-cut, and diction crisply defined. Rhythm and Louis Armstrong changed the world for sure, if he did not save it.

Christopher Fifield



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