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Vol. 6 St. Louis Blues

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Album Review

Twenty-three of Louis Armstrong's early big-band performances have been reissued complete and in chronological order on the sixth CD in this very valuable Columbia series. Armstrong, whose virtuosity and showmanship by the late 1920s could no longer be confined to a New Orleans jazz format, is heard supported by several different big bands (including Luis Russell's Orchestra) on these classic recordings. And while trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, clarinetist Albert Nicholas, and drummer Lionel Hampton are in the supporting cast, they are completely overshadowed by the leader. "St. Louis Blues," "Song of the Islands," "Dinah," "Tiger Rag," "I'm Confessin'," and "Body and Soul" are given memorable treatment, "Dear Old Southland" is a showcase in which Louis is backed just by pianist Buck Washington, and "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy" is a real tour de force. The latter piece has Armstrong forgetting the words in perfect rhyme and then scatting up a storm before constructing an absolutely perfect trumpet solo. Collectors will want to note that this CD has four previously unheard alternate takes including two of "St. Louis Blues." A gem.


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...
Full Bio

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