Sunday, May 16, 2010

Classics 928: Louis Armstrong 1944-46

Classics 928
Louis Armstrong
Release Date: 1997
Rating: A

Other notable musicians in this CD: Roy Eldridge, Jack Teagarden, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Oscar Pettiford, Dexter Gordon, Bobby Hackett, Johnny Guamieri, Herb Ellis, Charlie Shavers, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Don Byas, Billy Strayhorn, Duke
Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald.

label(s): Decca ,Victor, V-Disc
Number of sessions: 8
Unissued materials: Two rejected songs from Decca.
Track Highlights: Mop! Mop!, Groovin', Jack-Armstrong Blues
Other Ratings: Allmusic 4 (from 5), Penguin 4 (from 4)

Other issue or reissues: V-Disc Recordings (Collectors' Choice Music, 4510)

About the period: During the war the United States itself entered the record business, making hundreds of so-called V-discs for distribution to service bases. Most of these V-discs were standard popular fare by name bands, but a certain amount of jazz was squeezed in as well. At the same time Louis Armstrong was still popular but far from his glorious days of 1920s and 1930s.

The Album:
Beginning with a set of V-Discs cut at New York's Metropolitan Opera House on January 18, 1944. The next session is from August of 1944, when Satch cut three sides for Decca in Los Angeles. Backed by his 16-piece orchestra, he sang a couple of pop tunes, including a duet with actress Dorothy Dandridge. Back in New York at the beginning of December 1944, Armstrong cut a couple of sides with the V-Disc All-Stars. One session, held at midnight on December 7, 1944, included an all-star cast, among the musicians Teagarden and Bobby Hackett. According to one story, Armstrong walked into the studio as a surprise visitor when the session was already underway. He joined a mixed bag of musicians to cut his specialty, "Confessin'," and a blues originally issued as "Play Me the Blues," which became part of his standard repertory as "Jack Armstrong Blues." The blues features vocal exchanges between Armstrong, Teagarden, and trombonist Lou McGarity, each exhorting the other to "play me the blues," and consists largely of soloing by the principals. Armstrong plays a half-dozen choruses or more.

His only 1945 studio recordings as a leader, apparently, were two little sides for Decca. And then Esquire magazine provided another jazz context for Armstrong. The magazine had been reporting on jazz fairly regularly for over a decade. In 1943 the editors conceived the idea of a critics' poll of jazz musicians, as a kind of antidote to the Down Beat polls, which jazz fans felt were a travesty. The first poll resulted in a concert of the winners, given at the Metropolitan Opera House on January 18, 1944. Esquire continued its critics' poll through 1947. The first concert was recorded, and the winners of subsequent polls were recorded in various combinations in studios by jazz writer Leonard Feather. Armstrong won four times as a singer but only twice as a trumpet player. "Throughout, Louis parades his showy stuff, frequently on breakneck tunes taken too fast for him. He was at his worst at the Metropolitan Opera concert, flinging about random cliches, straining his way into the upper register, and generally working for cheap effects. He is somewhat better on the formally organized recording sessions: he plays a nice, if familiar, solo on "Snafu," and his opening solo on "Blues for Yesterday" is agreeable, if also familiar. But on the whole, the Esquire cuts show him at or near his worst." says James Lincoln Collier in his critical study of Armstrong's work in An American Genius.

Back to opening track, I still can't believe that Hawk wasn't much keen of Satch, according to his biography, Song of the Hawk. The Armstrong-Hawkins recorded collaboration with the Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, back in 1920s, ended on a low note, but Hawk took many things from Armstrong before his leaving for Chicago, even if he laughed at the drunk Armstrong, throwing up on Henderson, the night before his departure from the band.
Anyway the superb opening track, Mop Mop, composed by Hawk himself, is a good sign of dissolving all problems, enmities and difficulties between two giants, as time has passed.
As far as other writers comment is concerned, I prefer this one: "A delightful pot-pourri in mostly excellent sound," as been told by Cook-Morton.

--Ehsan Khoshbakht


Esquire Metropolitan Opera House Jam Session:
Louis Armstrong-t-v/Roy Eldridge-t/Jack Teagarden-tb-v/Bamey Bigard-c.J/Coleman Hawkins-ts/Art Tatum-p/AI Casey-g/Oscar Pettiford-b/Sidney Catlett-d.
  • New York, January 18, 1944.

VP-467 Mop Mop V-Disc 152-A [spoken introduction by George Simon,Armstrong & Eldridge]
VP-469 Blues V-Disc I 63-B
VP-469 Esquire Bounce V-Disc 163-8
VP-665 Basin Street Blues - vLA-JT V-Disc 234-B
VP-1025 Back Mown Blues - vLA V-Disc 366-B

Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra:
Louis Armstrong-t-v dir/Jesse Brown, Andrew "Fats" Ford-Thomas, Sleepy" Crider, Lester Currant-t/Taswell Baird, Adam Martin, Larry Anderson-tb/John Brown, Willard Brown-as/Ted McRae, Dexter Gordon-ts/Ernest Thompson-bar/Ed Swanston-p/Emmitt Slay-g/Alfred Moore-b/james "Coatsville" Harris-d/Dorothy Dandridge-v.
  • Los Angeles. August 9, 1944.

L-3500 Grooving Decca DL9225 (LP)
L-3501 Baby Don't You Cry - vLA Decca rejected
L-3502 Whatcha Say - vLA-DD Decca rejected

V-Disc All Star Jam Session:
Louis Armstrong-t-v/Billy Butterfield-t/Bobby Hackett-cornet/Lou McGarity, Jack Teagarden-tb-v/Ernie Caceres-cl/Nick Caiazza-ts/Johnny Guamieri-p/Herb Ellis-g/AI Hall-b/Cozy Cole-d.
  • New York, December 6. 1944.

VP-1054 "Jack-Armstrong" Blues - vLMG-IT V-Disc 384-A

Louis Armstrong and the V-Disc All-Stars:
Butterfield and McGarity omitted.
  • New York, December 7. 1944.
VP-1079 I'm Confessin' That I Love You - vLA V-Disc 49I-B

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra:
Louis Armstrong-t-v dir/Billy Butterfield-t/Sid Stoneburn, Jules Rubin-as/Bill Stegmeyer-ts-cl/Arthur Rollini-ts/Paul Ricci-bar/Dave Bowman-p/Carl Kress-g/Bob Haggart-b/Johnny Blowers-d.
  • New York, January 14. 1945.
72692-A Jodie Man - vLA Decca 18652
72693-A I Wonder - vLA Decca 18652

Esquire All-American 1946 Award Winners:
Louis Armstrong-t-v/Charlie Shavers-t/Jimmy Hamilton-cl/Johnny Hodges-as/Don Byas-ts/Billy Strayhom - Duke Ellington-p/Remo Palmieri-g/Chubby Jackson-b/Sonny Greer-d.
  • New York. January 10. 1946.
PD6VC-5020 Long Long Journey - vLA Victor 40-4001

Esquire All-American 1946 Award Winners:
Louis Armstrong-t-v/Neil Hefti-t/Jimmy Hamilton-cl/Johnny Hodges-as/Don Byas-ts/Billy Strayhom - Duke Ellington-p/Remo Palmieri-g/Chubby Jackson-b/Sonny Greer-d.
  • New York. January 10. 1946.

PD6VC-502 I Snafu Victor 40-4001

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong with Bob Haggart's Orchestra:
Bob Haggart dir. Louis Armstrong-t-v/Billy Butterfield-t/Bill Stegmeyer-cl-as/George Koenig-as/Jack Greenberg- Art Drelinger-ts/Milton Shatz-bar/Joe Bushkin-p/Danny Perri-g/Trigger Alpert-b/Cozy Cole-d/Ella Fitzgerald-v.
  • New York, January 18, 1946.

73285-A You Won't Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart) - vLA-EF Deuce 23496
73286-A The Frim Fram Sauce - vLA-IF Decca 23496

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra:
Louis Armstrong-t-v -dir/ Ludwig Jordan, Ed "Moon" Mullens, "Fats" Ford, William "Chieftie" Scott-t/Russell "Big Chief" Moore, Adam Martin, Norman Powe, Al Cobbs-tb/Donald Hill, Amos Gordon -as/Johnny Sparrow, Joe Garland-ts/Ernest Thompson-bar/Ed Swanston-p/Elmer Warner-g/Arvell Shaw-b/George "Butch" Ballard-dNelma Middleton-v.
  • New York. April 27, 1946.
D6VB-1736 Linger In My Arms A Little Longer. Baby - vLA Victor 20-1912
D6VB-1737- I Whatta Ya Gonna Do - vLA Victor 20-1891
D6VB-1738-2 No Variety Blues - vLA-VM Victor 20-1891
D6VB-1739 Joseph 'N' His Brudders - vLA Victor 20-2612
D6VB- 1740 Back O'Town Blues - vLA-VM Victor 20-1912

Total Time: 70 mins. (approximately)

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