Thursday, August 27, 2009

45 Seconds Of Power And Swing....

On Friday night, Turner Classic Movies is showing the 1956 film High Society, which features one of Louis Armstrong's finest screen roles. I like the movie (though come on, it's really no Philadelphia Story) but I LOVE the music. My favorite Cole Porter tune from the score is "I Love You, Samantha," a beautiful tune that is still kept alive by some very tasteful jazz musicians (Evan Christopher performed a lovely version of it while I was in New Orleans earlier this month).

I hope to do a blog on "I Love You, Samantha" tomorrow morning. But today, I wanted to post something short and simple: a 45-second, burning chorus of "Samantha" also taken from the High Society soundtrack. For such a short performance, it sure packs a helluva wallop. This is the Armstrong-Trummy Young-Edmond Hall band in all their power and glory, generating an almost inhuman amount of heat in just a single chorus of music.

Of course, I don't want to short the Billy Kyle-Arvell Shaw-Barrett Deems rhythm section either. In the first part of the tune, where the horns play a unison, obviously arranged version of the melody, it's the rhythm that's swinging like mad, Kyle sprinkling arpeggios liberally, Shaw pounding away with that huge sound of his and Deems thrashing his cymbals and creating all kinds of subtle accents on his snare. When Trummy steps in the lead for a pretty spot (supported by a riff from the trumpet and clarinet), Deems closes up his hi-hat and the whole thing takes on a contained feeling. But how long can you contain a band like this? The answer: about eight bars. As they approach the bridge (my favorite part of the tune), Deems turns up the volume again and the fiery Edmond Hall takes center stage for bit, with Pops playing the melody behind him. It all bubbles over into the final eight bars, Deems whacking the backbeat, Armstrong riding high towards a typical All Stars ending, tighter than Deems's snare (Trummy making his presence felt on the way out).

It's only 45 seconds but I think it perfect captures the heat and excitement that could be generated at any time by this group, Armstrong's finest edition of the All Stars. What do you think? Give it a listen...then come back tomorrow for the pretty version!

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