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Louis Armstrong and King Oliver

King Oliver & Louis Armstrong

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Album Review

Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornettist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on a par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Rheinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career; happily, all of them are available in this handy and generous package, which includes all 18 of King Oliver' s 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and even the sound quality — which one would expect to be terrible, given that all tracks were transferred form 78 rpm records — is surprisingly clear, thanks to advanced digital wizardry. [Note: the material on this disc was originally issued on LP in 1974, and included two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets that are missing from the CD reissue. Those duets are available on another Milestone reissue CD, Jelly Roll Morton, catalog number 47018.]

Biography

Born: 12 May 1885 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s

Joe "King" Oliver was one of the great New Orleans legends, an early giant whose legacy is only partly on records. In 1923, he led one of the classic New Orleans jazz bands, the last significant group to emphasize collective improvisation over solos, but ironically his second cornetist (Louis Armstrong) would soon permanently change jazz. And while Armstrong never tired of praising his...
Full Bio