Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
Recorded February 7, 1959
Track Time 4:00
Written by Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart
Recorded live in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Louis Armstrong,trumpet; Trummy Young, trombone; Peanuts Hucko, clarinet; Billy Kyle, piano; Mort Herbert, bass; Danny Barcelona, drums
Currently available on CD: It’s unissued, taken from a fantastic concert that deserves to be on C.D. (and especially DVD since videos of two performances from this show exist on YouTube.
Available on Itunes? No.
The Itunes shuffle must be digging features for the All Stars sidemen from the year 1959. Yesterday, I put up "Christopher Columbus," one of Mort Herbert's many bass features during his nearly four year tenure with the band. Today's subject was a feature for clarinetist Hucko from the same tour as Herbert's.
(In fact, this coming January marks the 50th anniversary of the mammoth European tour that featured some of Armstrong's greatest blowing but ultimately ended with his heart attack in Spoleto, Italy. I need to do something to commemorate it and it's either going to be a long series of posts or maybe I'll get creative and put my Mac to use and create some kind of multi-part "documentary" that'll feature the best audio and video from the tour, as well as newspaper reviews and anything else I can put my hands on. Stay tuned!)
This is a great edition of the All Stars, if slightly below the standard set by the previous Edmond Hall edition of the band. Regardless, it's much better than the band was during the Joe Darensbourg years when the repertoire narrowed a bit and Darensbourg contributed solos that ranged from passable to forgettable to just plain hokey. Hucko was something of a middle man as he usually managed to generate considerable heat in his solos but other times, could sound a bit bored, especially in ensembles when he sometimes sounded like he was going through the motions.
This edition of the All Stars clearly liked changing up their features and that's a good thing. Previously, Edmond Hall had about four features ("Dardanella," "Clarinet Marmalade" "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "You Made Me Love You"). Prior bassists Arvell Shaw, Dale Jones and Squire Gersh all played "Whispering" and usually one other feature ("How High the Moon" for Shaw, "Nobody" for Jones" and a short blues for Gersh, though Shaw sometimes played a blues, too). For a long time, Billy Kyle was content with "Perdido," "All the Things You Are" "Blue Moon" and "Pennies From Heaven."
But all of a sudden, with the addition of Hucko and Herbert, the All Stars became a band of many features. Hucko had "Autumn Leaves," "The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise," "Runnin' Wild," "Stealin' Apples," and "After You've Gone." Herbert had "Old Man River," "I Cover The Waterfront," "These Foolish Things," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "Love is Just Around the Corner," "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Christopher Columbus." Kyle added "Girl of My Dreams," "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" and even "Sweet Georgia Brown" to his list of stand-bys. Only Danny "Stompin at the Savoy/Mop Mop" Barcelona and Trummy "Undecided" Young remained true to their old faithfuls, though Young did give "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" a whirl in 1959.
An interesting thing to point it is that, of all the numbers listed in the previous paragraph, Armstrong played on each and every one of them except "Autumn Leaves" and "Girl of My Dreams." He always managed to contribute some melody and then some, blowing melodies an octave higher on some pieces and even contributing a vocal to "Old Man River." The man just did not know how to quit.
Case in point: "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise." This number will always be associated with Benny Goodman, who tore it up frequently, never better than on a Commodore record with the incredible Mel Powell (Goodman was billed as "Shoeless John Jackson" for contractual reasons!). Hucko was a Goodman man so the choice made sense. Only one version of the tune survives, from a February 7, 1959 concert in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw. The generosity of Jos Willems has made me able to appreciate the many riches of this concert, including an unbelievable "Tiger Rag" that almost rivals the one heard on volume four of Storyville's In Scandinavia series (almost, not quite). The concert has never been commercially available on C.D. but the first two performances, "Sleepy Time" and "Indiana" are on YouTube. I would do anything to see the rest of the show and who knows, maybe one day we'll be so lucky.
But until that lucky day, let's get back to Hucko. Armstrong's 1959 concerts featured a similar pattern. He'd push the hell out of his chops early on with "Indiana," "Basin Street" and "Tiger Rag," then sing and play "Now You Has Jazz" with Trummy. At this point it was time to rest. If he really needed a rest, Billy Kyle would play two songs, the first of which would feature no trumpet. If Pops felt good, Kyle would play "Perdido" and Pops would come out blasting at the end. Then Hucko would do two features, opening with "Autumn Leaves," again without trumpet. But Hucko's second feature was always a high-flyer that would feature plenty of Pops. So without further ado, here's the lone surviving example of Peanuts Hucko playing "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" with the All Stars:
Hot stuff! Hucko sounds great and the rhythm section really cooks. After a couple of choruses, Armstrong enters with the melody, phrasing it his own way. He does this for an entire chorus, ending with a high note that seems to propel Hucko into his next chorus with the effect of a catapult. Armstrong comes back for the second half and after a Barcelona drum break, takes it out with a high concert Db. That's impressive enough but then he calls it back for an encore, Armstrong taking more chances with the melody, but keeping it to a simmer as to not overwhelm Hucko. But after another Hucko solo excursion, Armstrong swarms back in for another half chorus, saving him for the big finish: after another drum break, Armstrong goes way up, ending with three notes--Db, Eb and F--that represent just about the highest peaks of his range. And this was on a clarinet feature! Again, the man just did not know how to quit.
That concludes this look at "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" but before I go, a quick note: last week, in my "Royal Garden Blues" entry, I mentioned that Marty Napoleon and Randy Sandke were giving a presentation at the Institute of Jazz Studies tomorrow night, the 15th. Unfortunately, Marty is currently ill and the evening will be rescheduled. I'll post the new details as soon as I get them but I know I speak for all Armstrong lovers when I wish Marty a speedy recovery. Now, if you have nothing to do, you can go to Birdland at 5:15 and catch David Ostwald's Gully Low Jazz Band in action. I don't think I'll be there (I'll definitely be there next week) but if you still haven't made it, please go to my friend Michael Steinman's excellent "Jazz Lives" blog (link to the right) and check out the videos he took of the group last week (and while your there, scroll down for Michael's excellent "Basie's Bad Boys" session discussion. When I first looked at the length of it, I thought that maybe for a minute, he thought he was me! But it's truly an excellent piece, making me dig out my Lester Young Mosaic immediately, always a good thing.