Saturday, February 19, 2011

Louis Armstrong: The Complete Town Hall Concert 1947

This 21-song, 2-CD set recorded in New York in 1947 finds Satchmo in excellent fettle. Marking his return to the smaller combo (after work with big bands throughout the '30s and '40s), the Town Hall discs not only capture an evening of outstanding and exuberant musicianship, they act as a sampler of Armstrong's dynamic career up to the late '40s. Tunes from the popular Hollywood phase (like "Pennies from Heaven" and "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans") are interspersed with spectacular gems retrieved from the golden Okeh catalogue. The loose, rag-timey, sometime frenetic feel of tracks like "Muskrat Ramble," "Royal Garden Blues," and "Tiger Rag" makes these songs the album's highlights.

The recording is long on charm--thanks to Armstrong's instantly recognizable gravelly vocals and off-the-cuff, tongue-in-cheek song patter, but it's Satch's revolutionary trumpet playing that really stands out. From the fat, mournful tone that introduces "Dear Old Southland" to the melodically daring improvisations that characterize classics like "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" and WC Handy's "Saint Louis Blues," there is evidence aplenty to make the case for Armstrong as the most influential instrumentalist of the 20th century.

Recorded live at Town Hall, New York on May 17, 1947. Includes liner notes by Daniel Nevers and Iraskli De Davrichewi.

Personnel: Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet); Michael A. "Peanuts" Hucko (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Jack Teagarden (trumpet, vocals); Robert L. "Bobby" Hackett (trumpet); Richard "Dick" Cary (piano); Bob Haggart (bass); Sidney "Big Sid" Catlett, George Wettling (drums).

Disc: 1
1. Introduction by Fred Robbins
2. Cornet Chop Suey

3. Our Monday Date

4. Dear Old Southland
5. Big Butter and Egg Man

6. Tiger Rag
7. Struttin' With Some Barbecue

8. Sweethearts on Parade
9. St. Louis Blues
10. Pennies from Heaven

11. On the Sunny Side of the Street

Disc: 2
1. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
2. Back O' Town Blues
3. Ain't Misbehavin'
4. Rockin' Chair
5. Muskrat Ramble
6. Save It, Pretty Mama
7. St. James Infirmary
8. Royal Garden Blues
9. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
10. Jack Armstrong Blues


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