Louis Armstrong All Stars: Live in Zurich, Switzerland 18.10.1949 (2008)
Just how good was Armstrong's band in 1949? For one thing look at the lineup; you have some of the best players associated with him, like Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, and the crack rhythm section of Earl Hines, Cozy Cole, and Arvell Shaw. This version of the All-Stars, weaned on Armstrong's music, was very familiar with the intricacies of every tune. Also, the group was playing to enthusiastic Europeans who still embraced Armstrong's music as the real deal, which positively invigorates the band.
And it shows. From "That's A Plenty" on, the group is positively invigorated and provides sizzling solos. Armstrong in particular constructs line with a logic that few even to this day can imitate, and the others have no problems keeping up. Each gets a shot at the spotlight, Teagarden of course gets a few vocals, and Bigard is featured extensively on "Fine and Dandy." Earl Hines plays a middle section in "Body and Soul" with an almost reckless abandon, carried away by the spirit of the occasion and eliciting cheers from the eager crowd. Even Velma Middleton is on hand to provide a few tasty blues.
Radio broadcasts have been the diet of many European jazz releases lately, and as such the quality isn't as great as a studio recording, but this one is better than most: Shaw isn't lost in the crowd and Cole comes through loud and clear.
Armstrong fans are sure to appreciate the opportunity to hear him in a pristine concert setting, and those who casually pick this one up will be treated to one of the finest working outfits in jazz at the top of their game.
Track Listing: When It's Sleepy Time Down South; That's A Plenty; Basin Street Blues; Royal Garden Blues; Struttin' With Some Barbeque; Black and Blue; Velma's Blues; Honeysuckle Rose; Fine and Dandy; Body and Soul; Back o' Town Blues; High Society; Do You Know What It Means; The Huckle-Buck.
Personnel: Louis Armstrong: trumpet, vocal; Jack Teagarden: trombone, vocal; Barney Bigard: clarinet; Earl Hines: piano; Arvell Shaw: bass; Cozy Cole: drums; Velma Middleton: vocal.
Record Label: Montreaux Jazz Label