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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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Nice and Philadelphia Concerts

Smooch CD REAL 1R



1. My Monday Date
2. Royal Garden Blues
3. Black and Blue
4. Velma's Blues
5. Panama
6. That's My Desire
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
8. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
9. Some Day
10. Boogie Woogie on Saint Louis Blues
11. Ain't Misbehavin'
12. I Cried for You
13. Steak Face
14. Basin Street Blues
15. When the Saints Go Marchin' In
16. Muskrat Ramble
17. Chinatown My Chinatown

1. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
2. Milenberg Joys
3. Body and Soul
4. Panama Rag
5. I'm Confessin'
6. Blue Skies
7. The One I Love
8. Little White Lies
9. Black and Blue
10. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home
11. Whispering/I Got a Right to Sing the Blues
12. Royal Garden Blues
13. Struttin’ with Some Barbecue
14. King Porter Stomp

Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocals
Barney Bigard – Clarinet (tracks I/1-13, 16; II/1-14)
Jack Teagarden – Trombone, vocals (tracks I/1-13, 16, 17; II/1-14)
Earl Hines – Piano (tracks I/1-13, 16, 17; II/1-14)
Arvell Shaw – Bass (tracks I/1-13, 16; II/1-14)
Sidney Catlett – Drums (tracks I/1-13, 16)
Velma Middleton – Vocals (tracks I/4, 6, 12; II/6, 8)
Wild Bill Davison – Cornet (tracks I/14, 15)
Albert Nicholas – Clarinet (tracks I/14, 15)
George Brunies – Trombone (tracks I/14, 15)
Art Hodes – Piano (tracks I/14, 15)
Danny Barker – Guitar (tracks I/14, 15)
Pops Foster – Bass (tracks I/14, 15)
Baby Dodds – Drums (tracks I/14, 15)
Pee Wee Russell – Clarinet (track I/17)
Jack Lesberg – Bass (track I/17)
J. C. Heard – Drums (track I/17)
Cozy Cole – Drums (tracks II/1-14)

This double album is a strange concoction. It is called the Nice and Philadelphia concerts but four tracks were recorded elsewhere. And, as the sleeve-note points out, the tape machine used for the recordings at Nice only allowed three minutes of recording, so there are sudden endings to several tracks. In the first version of Royal Garden Blues, the recording suddenly cuts out in the middle of the bass solo but resumes with the trumpet. A further problem is that the sound quality is often poor and fuzzy. In the middle of the first CD, the sound is obscured by very audible surface noise. It is like listening to the music while someone is noisily sweeping the floor.

Nevertheless, it is good to have these recordings of Louis Armstrong’s original All Stars, with Earl Hines at the piano and Sid Catlett on drums. The sleeve-notes quote some extraordinarily vituperative comments about this band but it was actually a fine ensemble which surrounded Louis with genuine stars and allowed us to enjoy his genius to the full – in a way that the earlier recordings with his big band failed to do. However often the All Stars played these tunes, they still sound fresh and inventive. Note, for instance, the glorious punctuations that Armstrong and Teagarden supply behind Velma Middleton’s vocals on Velma’s Blues. And the flirtatious duet between Louis and Velma on That’s My Desire is a classic.

Earl Hines’s piano is not always clearly audible but he is heard to advantage on Panama, which also has a beautifully shaped solo by Louis. Barney Bigard displays his complete mastery of the clarinet on many tracks – particularly in his feature on Body and Soul, ending with a glorious cadenza which closes with an immensely long-held note. And Jack Teagarden’s trombone is mellow and melodic throughout.

These recordings have plenty of faults but they are important in marking the renaissance of Louis Armstrong, at last allowed free rein in a small group whose members matched him perfectly.

Tony Augarde


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