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I've Got the World on a String - Louis Under the Stars

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Album Review

Recorded in one marathon session in Hollywood's Capitol Records Tower, these two albums were joined together in a double-CD set in 1999, with new notes, repros of the original LP covers, and a liberal sprinkling of outtakes tacked onto each disc. That these once-overlooked albums have been given such exhaustive treatment — at full price — is a sign that they are finally being appreciated as prime samplings from the autumn of Armstrong's recording career. Even in the pressure cooker of a marathon session, even when confronted with standards not often associated with him, Armstrong finds the essence of each tune, bending and projecting them with his patented joie de vivre and gravel-voiced warmth every time. There are also lots of examples of his trumpet — pithy, soulful, belonging to no one else — although the index markings indicate that some solos are composite takes. While annotator Richard M. Sudhalter doesn't think much of arranger Russ Garcia's contribution, in fact, Garcia pulls off several charts for big band and/or strings that are among the most atmospheric ever accorded to Armstrong. In particular, "When Your Lover Is Gone" is sublime, with its signature riff of blasé, sighing horns and responding, rising string tremolos, and Garcia frames "Body and Soul" with a lovely string chart whose penultimate stroke is a perfectly placed blue note. The strings of incomplete takes are particularly interesting, for they reveal the working relationship between Armstrong and Norman Granz, with Armstrong basically subservient to his producer. At their best, these albums create a seductive nighttime ambience that'll draw you in every time. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing, beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging...
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