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Throughout this collection of Louis Armstrong's Scandinavian appearances from 1933-1967, he's greeted with affectionate roars of excitement from his audiences. Six live performances included here from 1933 in Stockholm and Copenhagen may actually be the earliest ever recorded live jazz. Even without that being added to his accomplishments, Louis "Pops Armstrong's place in the jazz pantheon remains as secure as those of Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.
In these days of raving over instantly famous "American Idols, it's worth noting that even the hateful racism prevalent in America throughout his life couldn't prevent Armstrong from becoming the first true and enduring American idol.
Already a formidable player in his teens, from the early 1920s until his death at seventy on July 6, 1971, Armstrong was universally acclaimed. There was no barrier between him and an audience, as amply evidenced on these recordings. What they sometimes lack in pristine technical sound is more than compensated for by that special excitement of live performances. First among those historic early recordings is "I Cover the Waterfront, on which he scats and plays with lyrics in a style which influenced countless singers. Almost as a throwaway he launches into a soaring, seemingly effortless trumpet solo that remains as vital today as it must have seemed to listeners in Copenhagen decades ago.
There are dozens of such great moments in this rich collection as well as an opportunity to hear differences in performances over the years of "Basin Street Blues and one of his signature songs, "When It's Sleepy Time Down South. Despite some decline in his energy in the later years, a 1959 take on this classic tune has him in top form running up and down the scales. Also in evidence is a sampling of his huge pop hits such as "Cabaret and "Mack the Knife. Armstrong made many film appearances and even in a '50s B-flick he could seize the screen with his irresistible and pungent "A Kiss To Build A Dream. There's also an exuberant anthem, "Now You Has Jazz, from Cole Porter's film High Society, in which Armstrong starred with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
"Pops was born on August 4, 1901 and not July 4, as is often traditionally celebrated. There's no need to embroider anything about his legend. He was the first great jazz soloist and the blazing beauty of his horn and voice remain as true today as when he first helped to create the jazz idiom. Listen, savor and be grateful.
Track Listing: CD1: I Cover the Waterfront; Dinah; Tiger Rag; Chinatown My Chinatown; You Rascal You; On The Sunny Side of the Street; Twelfth Street Rag; Steak Face; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Indiana; A Kiss to Build a Dream On; Way Down Yonder in New Orleans; Coquette; Lover Come Back to Me; Can Anyone Explain?; After You've Gone; Russian Lullaby; Bugle Blues/Ole Miss. CD2:
When It's Sleepy Time Down South; New Orleans Function; Pennies From Heaven; The Roof Blues; Muskrat Ramble; Basin Street Blues; Big Daddy Blues; You're Just In Love; Stompin' At the Savoy; On the Sunny Side of the Street; High Society; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Indiana; The Gypsy; Pretty Little Missy; Struttin' With Some Barbecue. CD3:
When The Saints Go Marchin' In; Basin Street Blues; Tin Roof Blues; Sweet Georgia Brown; St. Louis Blues; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Intro The All Stars by Lucille Armstrong; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; A Kiss To Build A Dream On; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Indiana; I Get Ideas; Tenderly; The Faithful Husar; Old Man River; Mack the Knife; After You've Gone; Ole Miss. CD4:
Basin Street Blues; Tiger Rag; Now You Has Jazz; Christopher Columbus; Black and Blue/Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans; The Bucket's Got A Hole In It; Kokomo; Struttin' With Some Barbecue; Royal Garden Blues; When The Saints Go Marchin' In; Mack the Knife; Back O'town Blues; Ole Miss; St. James Infirmary; Cabaret; You'll Never Walk Alone.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.