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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

Live in ‘59

TDK DVWW-JILA

 

 
1. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South
2. Indiana
3. Basin Street Blues
4. Tiger Rag
5. Now You Has Jazz
6. Love is Just Around the Corner
7. C’est Si Bon
8. Mack the Knife
9. Stompin’ at the Savoy
10. St Louis Blues
11. Ko-Ko-Mo
12. When the Saints Go Marching In
13. La Vie en Rose
Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocals
Peanuts Hucko – Clarinet
Trummy Young – Trombone, vocals
Billy Kyle – Piano
Mort Herbert – Bass
Danny Barcelona – Drums
Velma Middleton – Vocals

Filmed at a 1959 concert in Belgium, this DVD captures Louis Armstrong with one of the later versions of his long-running All Stars. Louis’ sunny personality shines through from the very first frame – singing and playing his signature tune, When It’s Sleepy Time Down South. In the following Indiana, the sound is rather fuzzy, as it is at points throughout the recording, but the group’s dynamism comes across warmly and Louis’ trumpet solo is a marvel: bending notes, hitting the heights and improvising with his trademark melodic skill. Some critics have suggested that Armstrong declined in his later years, but this DVD proves that his fire and inventiveness were undiminished - whether as trumpeter or jovial vocalist.

A fast Basin Street Blues is followed by an even faster Tiger Rag, which is immediately encored just as frantically, with Louis pursuing Trummy Young around the stage. Then Louis introduces the infectious Now You Has Jazz from the film High Society, which Armstrong had made with Crosby and Sinatra three years previously. Bassist Mort Herbert is featured on Love is Just Around the Corner, stating the melody as well as improvising on the chords.

The Armstrong hits C’est Si Bon and Mack the Knife are well performed before Hawaiian drummer Danny Barcelona does an impressively extrovert drum feature on Stompin’ at the Savoy. Then singer Velma Middleton joins Louis at the microphone for good-humoured performances of St Louis Blues and Ko-Ko-Mo. The show ends with the inevitable Saints and a gentle La Vie en Rose, closing a concert lit up by Armstrong’s ebullient enthusiasm and brilliant playing, plus the classy musicianship of Trummy Young and Peanuts Hucko, and the elegant piano of Billy Kyle.

This concert was filmed in black-and-white, apparently with only two cameras, which means that we don’t always see musicians close-up when they play solos. Yet it is refreshing not to have the camera switching rapidly from one shot to another, as happens too often in modern films of concert performances.


Tony Augarde

 



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