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Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography, part two, + Louis And the Good Book & Satchmo Plays King Oliver

Avid Jazz AMSC1083



CD One

Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography, part two

2. If I Could Be with You

4. Body and Soul

6. Memories of You

8. You Rascal, You

10. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South

12. I Surrender, Dear

14. Them There Eyes

16. Lazy River

18. Georgia on My Mind

20. That’s My Home

22. Hobo, You Can’t Ride This Train

24. On the Sunny Side of the Street

Louis Armstrong and the All Stars:

Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocal (tracks 6, 10), narrator (all odd number tracks)

Trummy Young – Trombone

Edmond Hall – Clarinet

Billy Kyle – Piano

Squire Gersh – Bass

Barrett Deems – Drums

Added Personnel:

Hilton Jefferson – Alto sax (tracks 8, 12, 14, 18, 20, 22), replaces Ed Hall (track 6)

George Dorsey – Alto sax (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24)

Seldon Powell – Tenor sax (track 8, 22)

Dave MaRae – Baritone sax (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24)

Everett Barksdale – Guitar (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24)

Lucky Thompson – Tenor sax (tracks 2, 4, 6, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24)

Barney Bigard – Clarinet, replaces Ed Hall (track 10)

Arvell Shaw – Bass, replaces Squire Gersh (track 10)

Recorded over several sessions, New York, between Jan. 26, 1955 and Jan. 28, 1957.

Satchmo Plays King Oliver (alternate takes)

26. St. James Infirmary

27. I Want a Big Butter and Egg Man

28. I Ain’t Got Nobody

29. Panama

30. Dr. Jazz

31. Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

Louis and the Good Book

32. This Train

CD Two

Louis and the Good Book

1. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

2. Shadrack

3. Go Down, Moses

4. Rock My Soul

5. Ezekiel Saw de Wheel

6. On My Way

7. Down by the Riverside

8. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

9. Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child

10. Jonah and the Whale

11. Didn’t It Rain

Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocal (all tracks)

Trummy Young – Trombone

Edmond Hall – Clarinet (tracks 2, 4, 6, 11)

Billy Kyle – Piano

Mort Herbert – Bass

Barrett Deems – Drums

Everett Barksdale – Guitar (tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9)

Nickie Tagg – Organ (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 11)

Hank D’Amico – Clarinet (tracks 3, 5, 8, 9)

Dave McRae – Clarinet (tracks 1, 7, 10; CD One 32)

George Barnes – Guitar (tracks 1, 7, 10; CD One 32)

Unnamed backing choir (all tracks)

Recorded in New York, Feb. 1958

Satchmo Plays King Oliver

12. St. James Infirmary

13. I want a Big Butter and Egg Man

14. I Ain’t Got Nobody

15. Panama

16. Dr, Jazz

17. Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

18. Frankie and Johnny

19. I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of This Jelly Roll

20. Drop That Sack

21. Jelly Roll Blues

22. Old Kentucky Home

23. Chimes Blues

Louis Armstrong – Trumpet, vocal (tracks 12, 18, 19, 13, 14, 22)

Peanuts Hucko – Clarinet

Trummy Young – Trombone

Billy Kyle – Piano

Mort Herbert – Bass

Danny Barcelona – Drums

Recorded in Los Angeles, Sept./Oct. 1959


This double CD set, Part Two, concludes Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography. (Avid AMSC 1082 is Part One of the Musical Autobiography, a double CD set containing the first three original LP’s.) CD One of this set contains the fourth and final Musical Autobiography LP, followed by a half dozen alternate takes of tracks from Satchmo Plays King Oliver and one track, This Train, from Louis and the Good Book. CD Two of the set contains the two other sessions: the issued tracks of Satchmo Plays King Oliver and those of Louis and the Good Book (minus, of course, This Train). However, the organization of the material in this two-disc set leaves something to be desired. It seems to me that it would have been better to begin Louis and the Good Book on CD One after the conclusion of the Autobiography, then continue it on CD Two and include This Train there in its proper position. Then all of Satchmo Plays King Oliver plus the alternate tracks would have followed and been on CD Two, thus allowing anyone who wanted to compare the issued tracks and their alternates to do so more easily, rather than having to switch back and forth between discs.

Of the first dozen selections, which comprise the last part of the Musical Autobiography, almost all are played by augmented versions of the All Stars, thus resembling some of the “big bands” that Armstrong led during the thirties and forties until the advent of the All Stars in 1947. (The only exception is When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, which is played by the six members of the All Stars of 1955 only.) The tunes chosen reflect some personal attachments Armstrong had to them, as he tells us in his introductions—for instance, on the first recording he made of Memories of You in 1930, he had a 17-year-old Lionel Hampton on drums; or of what became his theme song, When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, he says he carried it around “in [his] trunk for a whole year” before recording it in 1931; or Them There Eyes about which he recounts that Chick Webb, when Armstrong was with him, would come up and say, “Hey, Pops, play ‘Them Eyes’ for me,” and Armstrong chuckles at the memory. These performances of the tunes, all arranged by Sy Oliver except for When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, are first rate and invite comparison with the original recordings, in many cases surpassing these.

The first of the other two “classic” albums here reprised, Louis and the Good Book, consists of gospel songs and spirituals that feature Armstrong’s gravelly voice but not much of his trumpet playing. However, they are a joy to hear as he can swing almost anything and does so here, backed ably by the unidentified choir. What he says at the end of Ezekiel Saw de Wheel—“…old Zeke was wailin’ that time”—could apply equally to his singing of all of these numbers.

The other “classic” album, Satchmo Plays King Oliver, gives more time and space to drums than Oliver ever did, and Barcelona displays his considerable chops. However, I was never as keen on his drumming as Armstrong obviously was. Barcelona was a bit manic, tending to hit everything in sight—and often—not realizing that most of the time “more is actually less.” Armstrong is not trying to “recreate” here, trying to do these as Oliver did, but rather to interpret them à la All Stars mode, and quite satisfying they are. And Armstrong is in no rush to get through them. St. James Infirmary is taken at a dirge-like tempo throughout—no doubling up here for the second half—as is Jelly Roll Blues. Another “variant” tempo is that of Dr. Jazz, which Armstrong takes at a very sedate tempo, one few other bands attempt. Still another tune taken at a slow pace is Drop That Sack, making the breaks of the piece very dramatic, and Chimes Blues is also a good bit slower than the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band’s version. Frankie and Johnny is a small jewel, consisting only of Armstrong’s inimitable vocal with a superb accompaniment by Billy Kyle on a barroom-sounding piano.

Of the alternate takes, found on CD 1, there is little variation from the issued ones, with perhaps the exception of I want a Big Butter and Egg Man where the solos on the issued track are eight measures long, and they are doubled on the alternate to sixteen, thus elongating the time from a little under four minutes to a little over five. For the rest there is little difference between the two—no essential changes to solos, only minor things, such as the trombone being muted rather than open or a scat vocal on a second strain rather than a straight one, etc.

These two CD’s are worthy additions to the Armstrong canon, and fans will want to have them. Unfortunately, there are no new liner notes by Ricky Riccardi as was the case with Avid AMSC 1082, Part One, but the remastering of the tracks from these LP’s by David Bennett on Part Two is again first-class—another good reason to acquire them.

Bert Thompson

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