Byron Stripling: If I Could Be With You: Byron Stripling and Friends Play Louis Armstrong
Satch's 100th. The music on this disc has been mined from two previous Nagel-Heyer releases: We Love You Louis! The New York All-stars Play The Music Of Louis Armstrong (N-H 029) and Oh, Yeah The New York All-stars Play The Music Of Louis Armstrong (N-H 046). Both discs document live recordings made the Congress Centrum and Hanse-Merkur Auditorium, respectively, both in Hamburg, Germany (home of Nagel-Heyer). This disc of previously released performances is being released in the quasi-centenary of Armstrong's birth to celebrate such. That seems like a good enough reason to me to release such fine music. Byron Stripling has been long associated with Armstrong's style, though sometimes he fights the connection in the media. I don't know why. He has a ver potent personal style both on trumpet and vocals that would never permit me to mistake him for anyone else. This disc can be looked at as his (and Nagel-Heyer's) loving tribute to an American original.
There are no repertoire surprises here and that is okay. Stripling sings and plays his way through Armstrong chestnuts like "Sunny Side Of The Street", "So You Know What It Means", and "I'm Confessing That I Love You." His trumpet playing is tart and concise, perfectly balanced by the second trumpeter Randy Sandke. His phrasing, both horn and voice, will certainly remind one of Armstrong, but he stops way short of being a wholesale plagiarism (if there can be such a thing in jazz). The pinnicle of this disc is reached early when Stripling and Sandke provided a blistering final chorus, fashioned after Armstong's 1920s Hot Fives solo, on "Struttin' With Some Barbeque". It is a thrill. Another local maxima is achieved on Joe Oliver's seminal "West End Blues". It is played slowly, as it should be. Throw in "St. Louis Blues" and "Tiger Rag" and you have a tradtional jaz rave up, digitally expressed in all its glory. Holy cow, this is a super disc.
On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Struttin' With Some Barbecue; Thanks A Million/Rockin Chair/ Do You Know What It Means; I Souble Dare You; I'm Confessin' That I Love You; St. Louis Blues; If I Could Be With You; Mack The Knife/The Faithful Hussar; West End Blues; Big Butter And Egg Man; Tiger Rag; When It's Sleepy Time Down South. (Total Time: 69:03)
Byron Stripling: Trumpet, Vocals; Randy Sandke: Trumpet; Joel Helleny: Trombone; David Ostwald: Tuba; Kenny Davern, Allan Vache: Clarinet; Mark Shane, Johnny Varro: Piano; Greg Cohen, Bob Haggart: Bass; Joe Ascione: Drums.