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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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LOUIS ARMSTRONG Vol.6

You Rascal You

Original recordings !939-41

NAXOS JAZZ LEGENDS 8.120816

 

 

 

  1. Harlem stomp
  2. Poor Old Joe
  3. Hep Catsí Ball
  4. Bye & Bye
  5. W.P.A.
  6. Boog-It
  7. Cherry
  8. Marie
  9. Cut Off My Legs and Call Me Shorty
  10. Sweethearts On Parade
  11. You Run Your Mouth, Iíll Run My Business
  12. Perdido Street Blues
  13. 2:19 Blues (Mamieís Blues)
  14. Down in Honky Tonk Town
  15. Coal Cart Blues
  16. Hey Lawdy Mama
  17. Do You Call That a Buddy
  18. You rascal You
  19. When Itís Sleepy Time Down South
  20. Long, Long Ago

No one can deny Louis Armstrongís place in jazz history, he was a superb musician artist and entertainer. The trouble with some of the tracks here, is that the A&R men in the record companies of those days, had no idea how to use him to best advantage. 1939 was still the heyday of the Big Bands and on many of these tracks Louis is the only star of many of the bands, his stature as a musician however, was that he stood head and shoulders above most, so it is therefore hardly surprising.

It was not long after this period that he turned to the All Stars format which, with itís classic Dixie front line of Trumpet, Clarinet & Trombone, became the format for all his remaining bands. There is little doubt that this is the line up he was most comfortable in and the smaller band meant there was less people to pay, so the supporting musicians were of the highest calibre and stars in their own right. Louis was such an enormous talent that he probably proved intimidating to lesser musicians.

Tracks 6 to 8 include the Mils Brothers and whilst they are pleasant enough, the jazz content is not high. It was interesting to find that the Ted Heath version of Marie, no doubt had itís origin in track 8.

There are also several novelty tracks like tracks 9 & 11 as the record companies of the day strove for commercial success, but even on these tracks Louis still plays excellent trumpet. Tracks 12 to 15 couple Louis with another jazz giant Sidney Bechet who is heard on both clarinet and saxophone, soprano sax that is not alto as the sleeve notes say. This is quite an interesting meeting, but for my money Louis sounds the more relaxed and therefore steals the show. The best of the 3 tracks is no.14, where the band starts to swing nicely on this up tempo piece.

Tracks16,17 & 20 feature Louis with an All Stars type line up, but on tracks 18 & 19, a big band is featured. The latter includes the title track which Louis performed for the rest of his playing life and his signature tune Sleepy Time Down South.

It is not possible to have an Armstrong album that does not contain some Ďgemsí, but playing with big bands did little for Louis.

As usual the NAXOS team have done a good job in cleaning the sound up and the reproduction is well up to scratch.

Don Mather

 



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