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Louis Armstrong: Satch Plays Fats / Ambassador Satch / Satchmo The Great

C. Michael Bailey By

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Rumination. Gigabytes of criticism, consideration, and reconsideration have been expended on every note Louis Armstrong exhaled from his trumpet. I have nothing to add other than just the facts, ma'am. These three releases have be floated as a prelude to the release of the Complete Hot Fives and Sevens later this month. All of these discs have been remastered and contain both previously released and unreleased alternates in an effort the finally provide the listener as complete a chronicle of this music as possible. The sonics are pretty good, though some of the live stuff is a bit difficult. The best and most cohesive of the bunch is Satch Plays [and sings] Fats. This is a most delightful disc. I suspect the critics in the 50s felt the same. Like I said, I have little to add.

I did, however, have a couple of thoughts while shining these discs under the laser. Armstrong was recording this music during the white hot end of Be Bop between 1955 (the death of Charlie Parker) and 1958 (the year before Kind of Blue ). During this same time while Armstrong was recording these sides Miles Davis assembled his first great quintet and Art Blakey assembled his first Jazz Messengers. Davis released Prestige’s Cookin’ through Columbia’s Milestones during this period. The Jazz Messenger’s waxed Live At The Café Bohemia through Moanin’ documenting the best of Hard Bop. Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor were just gearing up for Free Jazz. But Armstrong was holding the status quo. Defining and documenting. Not unlike what Brahms was doing with the music of Beethoven during the era of Wagner, not unlike Wynton Marsalis today. Armstrong differs from Marsalis in that he (Armstrong) was an early innovator in jazz and Marsalis has been a keeper of that innovation.

These sides show that Louis Armstrong stood by his guns and produced the music he was most competent at producing. It is hard to criticize someone for doing what they do best and that is what Armstrong was doing these sides.

Track Listing ( Satch Plays Fats ):Honeysuckle Rose; Blue; Turning Grey Over You; I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby; Squeeze Me; Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now; All That Meat And No Potatoes; I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling; Black And Blue; Ain't Misbehavin'; (Bonus Tracks- Edited, Previously Unreleased) Black And Blue; I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby; Blue, Turning Grey Over You; I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling; (Orignal Classic Recordings) Squeeze Me; Black And Blue; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Blue, Turning Grey; Keepin’ Out Of Mischief; Sweet Savannah Sue; That Rhythm Man. (Total Time: 78:57)

Track Listing ( Satchmo The Great ):When It’s Sleep Time Down South; Indiana; Flee As A Bird To The Mountain; Oh, Didn’t He Ramble; Mack The Knife; Mahogany Hall Stomp; All For You, Louis; Black And Blue; St. Louis Blues. Bucket’s Got A Hole In It; Royal Garden Blues; On The Sunny Side Of The Street. (Total Time: 63:19)

Track Listing ( Ambassador Satch ):Royal Garden Blues; Tin Roof Blues; The Faithful Hussar; Muskrat Ramble; All Of Me; Twelfth Street Rag; Undecided; Dardanella; West End Blues; Tiger Rag; Clarinet Marmalade; Someday You’ll Be Sorry; When The Red Red Robin. (Total Time: 63:19)


Personnel: Louis Armstrong: Trumpet, Cornet; and a cast of thousands.

Title: Satch Plays Fats / Ambassador Satch / Satchmo The Great | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Columbia Records


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