Personnel: Louis Armstrong [trumpet/vocal] Jack Teagarden [trombone/vocal] Barney Bigard [clarinet] Earl Hines [piano] Arvell Shaw [string bass] Cozy Cole [drums] Velma Middleton [vocal]
Songs: Royal Garden Blues, I Used to Love You, The Hucklebuck, Back-O-Town Blues, I Love the Guy, Ces’t Si Bon, Stardust, Old Rockin’ Chair, Tea for Two, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, Lover, Love Me or Leave Me, La Vie En Rose, C-Jam Blues, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Where Did You Stay Last Night?
JCCD-3120: Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars—
A Vancouver Concert: Live—1951
JazzReview.com—Internet Jazz Magazine
“How’s this for openers: The greatest jazz trumpeter in the world and his all-star band are in town! The concert is sold out. A very happy event is at hand. The king will be ravenously welcomed by his thousands of adoring fans. Only one little problem. The hotel that Louis booked into has just told him that they don’t accept Negroes and he is standing there in the lobby with his suitcases piled all around him and no place to spend the night. Where is he? Mississippi? Alabama? Hate to disappoint you anti-American types but Louis is standing in the lobby of the Vancouver Hotel in British Columbia, Canada on January 26, 1951”. Those are the words of Jazz Crusade’s Big Bill Bissonnette and lead off his touching liner notes for this album.
This is the Armstrong unit that earned Armstrong the enviable title of Ambassador Satch. He formed the All-Stars in 1946 and staffed it with some of the finest players available at the time. Trombonist Jack Teagarden joined the band in 1946 and remained until late1951. The big Texan is featured here on “Stardust”, “Lover” and the Louis and Jack patented version of “Old Rockin’ Chair.” The latter tune is, alone, worth the price of admission.
The All-Stars employed some of jazzdom’s most exciting drummers including Barrett Deems, Big Sid Catlett, George Wettling, Kenny John and Cozy Cole. Cole’s work on this concert is great and he lays down a spectacular performance on “Stompin’ At the Savoy” and again behind Barney Bigard’s brilliant solo on “Tea for Two.” While Bigard shared the clarinet chair over the years with Peanuts Hucko and Lyle Johnson, he spent more time with Louis than the others combined.
Earl “Fatha” Hines was a constant with the All-Stars and his reputation is legendary. His work on the band’s reading of “Love Me or Leave Me” is brilliant with ample backing by Arvell Shaw and Cozy Cole.
Velma Middleton was Armstrong’s perennial vocalist from 1941 to 1961. Middleton never recorded with anyone but Satchmo and she died during the band’s African tour in 1961. Middleton is featured on “Hucklebuck” and “Where Did You Stay last Night” but captures the audience’s enthusiastic applause with the little-known “I Love The Guy.”
Is there really any reason to comment on the performance of Louis Armstrong? I think not! The All-Star period showcased some of the most exciting performances since the Hot 5’s and 7’s.
This is a fine concert overall and as one would expect, the sound quality leaves something to be desired. The album still deserves five shining stars.
Boxell’s Jazz Website—New Zealand
My Aunt Margaret’s husband was a Satchmo fan and, knowing I loved traditional jazz, he used to insist on playing his LPs when I went over to visit. I used to smile and thank him, but I wished he hadn’t because I must confess that for me Louis reached his peak with the Hot 5 & Hot 7 and that from then on it was all downhill for, whilst I appreciated his great skill and talent on trumpet, his tendency to spend too much time in the upper register and his hogging the musical lime light turned me off. So, it was with some trepidation I approached this CD.
I needn’t have worried for this concert is great stuff, even if, being live, it sometimes gets a little out of balance. However the ‘live’ aspect certainly gives it great ambiance with crowd chatter and background banter between the band members.
The band consists of Louis on trumpet (of course), Jack Teagarden on trombone, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Earl Hines piano, Arvell Shaw bass, Cozy Cole drums and 3 vocals by Velma Middleton*. As you will see, this is truly an All Stars band, unlike many of Satchmo’s later outfits. Not only is the band ‘all star’, they all get opportunities to shine, which many of the later musicians didn’t get.
Satchmo is in excellent form and after his years playing with big bands has slipped back into the traditional style with little apparent effort. Jack Teagarden is, well Jack Teagarden. He gets to feature on ‘Stardust’ and ‘Lover’, liquid trombone all the way. Now some may say that ex-Duke Ellington band member, Barney Bigard wouldn’t fit it, especially as his prime instrument had been the tenor sax, but to my ear he does. This is especially evident on ‘I Used to Love You’, and indeed, this track shews all the band working well together. Barney gets to play an Ellington tune in ‘C-Jam Blues’ and even on a rather up tempo ‘Tea for Two’ uses some of his ex-boss’ phraseology.
Earl Hines features on ‘Love me or Leave Me’ and it is here that drummer Cozy Cole to my mind shews that he often lacks sympathy for the traditional jazz idiom. He also slips his chain during the drum break on ‘Stomping at the Savoy’.
Vocalist Velma Middleton sings well and has a good ‘jazz/blues’ voice. I must confess that this is the first time I have heard the lyrics to ‘The Huckaback’, a dance that, if Velma’s instructions are carried out, must surely have led to many chiropractors getting rich. On ‘‘Where Did You Stay Last Night’ she is obviously having a ball and enjoying flirting and ‘playing’ with the band.
Indeed there is a lot of fun going on between the band members during this concert. This relaxed and jovial atmosphere is very apparent in the interplay between Armstrong & Teagarden, especially on ‘Old Rocking Chair’. Although the intros to the tunes are very much ‘stage Satchmo’, there is also much genuine banter and joking going on that is ‘in house’ rather than for the audience. This is a live show that indeed ‘showcases’ what must be Louis Armstrong’s best post Hot 5 & Hot 7 bands.
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