As promised, here's a video to pass some of the time in between barbecues on this Labor Day weekend. It's Louis Armstrong and the All Stars doing "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" for an Italian film, "Salute E Baci," also known as "La Route Du Bonheur," in October 1952. This is one of the silliest clips of the All Stars in action. Horribly overdubbed, the band seems to be having a good time with everything, mugging like crazy, fooling around and barely even trying to mimic the soundtrack recording. Ten years later, Arvell Shaw caught the film on television and remembered it well, saying, “Man, I tell you that scene where we were clowning around just broke me up. And I kept remembering how ‘Cactus’ (an unknown friend) drove that truck on the set and almost tore the whole set up, when he was so lit. Wild!”
So don't take it too seriously as the band, perhaps a little high on something, purposely hams it up with abandon. But close your eyes, if you must, and you'll hear some inspired playing, especially an Armstrong solo that's almost completely different from the "set" one he normally took on the tune, especially in the second half. The band is a transitional one with Marty Napoleon still on piano and the little known Bob McCracken on clarinet. Many writers have written about Barney Bigard being with the group from their inception until Edmond Hall replaced him in 1955, but it's not true. Bigard grew weary of the road in late 1952 and decided to sit out a long European tour. McCracken joined in the summer of 1952 and stayed until a refreshed Bigard came back in February 1953. Trummy Young is on trombone, having just joined the band the previous month, beginning a stay that lasted more than a decade. And Cozy Cole is still on drums, though both he and Napoleon would be gone within a year.
But enough from me, here's the clip!
That video is a ton of fun, but I need to take a serious second and send my concern and prayers to the great city of New Orleans, as well as the rest of the southeast costal states. Hurricane Gustav is closing in and I shudder to think about the possibility of another Katrina, especially after having just visited the beautiful city and having met so many wonderful people. Our thoughts and prayers are with you...