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Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy

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Album Review

This recording was not only Louis Armstrong's finest record of the 1950s but one of the truly classic jazz sets. Armstrong and his All-Stars (trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Billy Kyle, bassist Arvell Shaw, drummer Barrett Deems, and singer Velma Middleton) were clearly inspired by the fresh repertoire, 11 songs written by W.C. Handy. Their nearly nine-minute version of "St. Louis Blues" — with witty vocals, roaring Young trombone, and a couple of long majestic trumpet solos — is arguably the greatest version of the oft-recorded song. Other highlights include "Loveless Love," "Beale Street Blues," and a romping version of "Ole Miss Blues." Essential music for all serious jazz collections. [Some reissues also include rehearsal versions of three songs, Louis Armstrong telling a joke, and a brief George Avakian interview with W.C. Handy.]

Biography

Born: 04 August 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,...
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