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Louis Armstrong and King Oliver

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Album Review

Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 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 include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets.

Customer Reviews

Early genius from the master

Though his work as front man of his own band would result in the landmark recordings of Louis' early career, these recordings were his first, and they really showcase his young talent. "Chimes Blues" is the standout here. It's my favorite song of his early work including the brilliant work he'd do just a few years later after he'd leave King Oliver. The solo is as good as you'll ever hear on any recorded music. The only negative thing about this particular collection is the quality of the master. Unfortuately, there's a lot of tape hiss, and if you listen to this version, then listen to the remastered version on Ken Burns' Jazz, you'll hear a remarkable difference. Just consider the hiss "old scars on fine leather."


Born: May 11, 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 idol, he actually sounded very little like Oliver; the King's influence was more deeply felt by Muggsy Spanier and...
Full Bio

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