Today is my birthday, number 29. When I started this blog in 2007, I was still 26. A 26-year-old Louis Armstrong nut? You don't see that every day. A 29-year-old one? Why, those are a dime a dozen! Might as well call me Old Man Mose...
Of course, I kid. I relish my role as Armstrong "freak show" and I hope keep doing this til I'm 80. (Wow, when I'm 80, "West End Blues" will be 132 years old!). Though I promised a blog on "Gut Bucket Blues" today, my "Shoe Shine Boy" entry from last week has been blowing up, earning a record number of hits for such a short period of time. Thus, I'm going to let it stew for a couple of more days to allow you to alert your friends and neighbors to the playing contained in it, especially that 1949 version.
The 1949 "Shoe Shine Boy" is the centerpiece of that blog, taken from the night Armstrong was crowned "King of the Zulus" on February 27 at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium. Today, as a birthday gift from me to you, I want to offer up the very next song played at that concert, one of the hottest "Royal Garden Blues" performances in the Armstrong canon. If you've been with me for a while, I knocked myself out last October with a massive blowout piece on Armstrong's history with "Royal Garden" (click here to see it). It featured over 30 music examples and thousands of words and frankly, I think it was a little overwhelming for those looking for a quick read...and not for an excuse to spend three days in front of the computer trying to get through one article!
But boy, I wish I had this "Royal Garden Blues" back then. It's truly a killer. I know there's a lot of Big Sid Catlett enthusiasts out there, myself definitely among them. Sid's a monster on this cut. Never mind pioneering bop drumming; he practically invents free jazz drumming. Listen to Armstrong's second solo chorus...it might as well be Don Cherry and Billy Higgins! Anyway, the whole group sounds great and Pops is tops, as usual. I'll close with the audio....enjoy!