Thursday, September 1, 2011

Listening to the Book: Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of my book, What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years, lands us squarely in the year 1953 and begins with Marty Napoleon's enthusiastic description of Sy Oliver's arrangement of "Your Cheatin' Hear." I did a full blog on the tune that you can findhere, but if you just want to listen to it for yourself, here's the audio:

Of course, the main focus of the chapter is Louis's debacle of a tour with Benny Goodman. I discussed that tour and included rare audio of a finale version of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" from after Gene Krupa took over from Goodman in a blog that can be found by clicking here. And from the perfect timing department, Michael Steinman just posted a rare photo of the All Stars and Krupa's big band on stage together doing the "Saints" yesterday! So go over to Jazz Lives and stare at the beautiful picture while you listen.

Soon after the tour, Louis and the All Stars appeared in "The Glenn Miller Story." On a personal note, their version of "Basin Street Blues" was really the first thing I ever saw Louis do and was really responsible for the madness that followed. Here's that clip in all its glory:

Soon after the filming, Milt Hinton joined the All Stars. On one of his earliest nights, the All Stars tore out on an incredible version of "Royal Garden Blues" from the Blue Note in Chicago. Here 'tis:

And if you want to know more about "Royal Garden Blues" and listen to another version from this same Blue Note engagement where Pops struggles a bit, go to my blog on the subject.

One of Louis's all-time greatest sessions occurred in October 1953 as he did five songs backed by Tutti Cammarata and Ed Grady's studio band, The Commanders. I did an entire blog on this session in which you can read about and listen to every track. That blog can be found here.

And finally, after some more personal changes, the All Stars at the end of 1953 featured Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Billy Kyle, Milt Hinton and Kenny John. I didn't quote it in the book, but on one of his private tapes from 1954, Louis called this the best version of the All Stars yet because they sounded "fuller." With due respect to the Teagarden-Hines edition, he wasn't kidding. This group toured Japan in December 1953 and completely broke it up. Here's a version of "Indiana" from Yokohama on New Year's Eve 1953 to illustrate their power and swing:

And that's all for now. The All Stars flew to Hawaii the following day and for what happened, well, read the book! But I'll be back in a few more days with more audio from chapter 7. Thanks for listening...and reading!

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