Sunday, October 30, 2011

Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1955-1959

Well, here I go again, entertaining myself (and hopefully some of you) with another in-depth look at some typical live All Stars shows during Edmond Hall era and the bulk of the Peanuts Hucko years. This is my favorite All Stars period, as I've declared time and time again, and fortunately, it's a fairly well documented period. Not only was the band at its peak, but Louis's popularity was skyrocketing thanks to his relationship with Columbia. But this should be an interesting "Anatomy" post because the great Edmond Hall left the band in a huff in 1958 saying he was tired of playing the same show ever night. Hmmm, I'll grant Hall that Louis did perform a lot of the same songs night in and night out but there were always some different choices. Hopefully I can prove that the All Stars had a pretty big bag to choose from during this period.

I've already set out to do that in my first two parts of this series. I'd suggest checking those out first if you haven't because today's post really builds on those. First up was 1947-1951, the early days of the group, and then I followed with 1952-1955, quitting when Barney Bigard left the band in September 1955. He was replaced by Hall and almost immediately, the band embarked on an epic tour of Europe, followed around in some places by Edward R. Murrow's camera crew for "See It Now" and George Avakian's microphones for the eventual "Ambassador Satch" album.

As I've mentioned before, Louis's European shows were a little different than his stateside ones. For one thing, he usually did two in one day....sometimes three! Because of this, he'd usually do a long first set, take a break and then come back with a high octane, but much shorter, second set. Also, knowing that his European fans only saw him once ever three or four years, Louis often worked out a pretty similar pattern that he'd follow each night. But again, no two shows were the same.

But let's start by backtracking a bit. If you saw Louis in Stockholm, Sweden in 1952, this is the show you got:

October 4, 1952 - Stockholm, Sweden
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (opening theme)
Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
Way Down Yonder Down In New Orleans
Coquette
Lover Come Back to Me
Can Anyone Explain
Limehouse Blues
After You've Gone
Tin Roof Blues
Russian Lullaby
Bugle Blues / Ole Miss
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
SECOND SET
New Orleans Function
Pennies from Heaven
Muskrat Ramble
Basin Street Blues
Velma's Blues
You're Just in Love
Stompin' at the Savoy

When Louis returned to Sweden in 1955, here's a typical show from Boras, October 7, 1955:

October 7, 1955 - Boras, Sweden
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (opening theme)
Indiana
Someday You'll Be Sorry
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Pennies from Heaven
Dardanella
The Man I Love
Twelfth Street Rag
Margie
Velma's Blues
Ko Ko Mo
Mop Mop
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
SECOND SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
Basin Street Blues
Royal Garden Blues
St. James Infirmary
St .Louis Blues
Stompin' at the Savoy
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

Wow, even I'm kind of surprised at the differences! Only the beginning--"Sleepy Time" and "Indiana" (duh)--and the very end--drum feature on "Stompin' at the Savoy"--are the same. Everything else is different, including the other two repeated songs; "Pennies" featured Louis in 1952 but was a piano feature for Billy Kyle in '55 and "Basin Street Blues" was a Trummy Young featuer in '52 but featured Louis in '55. And other shows were recorded in Sweden that same week featuring even more different repertory. A Stockholm show from October 2 had "Pretty Littly Missy," "The Gypsy" and "Struttin' With Some Barbecue." Louis did two shows in Lund, Sweden on October 6 and they added "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Pretty Little Missy," "Undecided," "All of Me," "Back O'Town Blues," "High Society," "Tain't What You Do," "That's My Desire" and "All the Things You Are" (a Billy Kyle feature). So I've covered four Swedish concerts between October 3 and October 7, 1955 and have already come up with 30 different songs.

Let's flash now to the end of October 1955 and a concert in Amsterdam that George Avakian recorded in full for Columbia (and one that Sony still hasn't issued in complete form). The pacing and order of features is the same but there's again some different choices from the Boras show I shared above:

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands - October 30, 1955
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (opening theme)
Indiana
Blueberry Hill
Pretty Little Missy
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Perdido
Dardanella
The Man I Love
Back O'Town Blues
Undecided
Velma's Blues
Ko Ko Mo
Mop Mop
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
SECOND SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
C'est Si Bon
Basin Street Blues
Rockin' Chair
Muskrat Ramble
St. James Infirmary
All of Me
St. Louis Blues
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

So we have some more new selections: "Blueberry Hill," "Perdido," "C'est Si Bon," "Rockin' Chair" and "Muskrat Ramble." Gone are stapes like "Someday," "The Gypsy," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Royal Garden Blues," "Struttin' with Some Barbecue," so many more. And the second set is longer than the Swedish ones so maybe Louis only did one show at the Concertgebouw that day. But the pacing is the same: Louis comes out and wows the crowd for a while, then features by Billy Kyle, Edmond Hall and Arvell Shaw, something that features Louis, a Trummy Young feature, Velma, a Barrett Deems drum solo then intermission. The second set would be Louis heavy for a while and then he'd pass the baton for one feature (usually Arvell singing "St. James Infirmary") and then more Velma and out (though often Deems would get another feature before the finish).

On December 23, 1955, Louis performed three (!) concerts in one day at the Windsor Palace in Barcelona, Spain. Recordings were discovered decades later, cause for celebration. Because of the overlap, the best performances were edited together and released as a two-disc set Historic Barcelona Concerts, which seems to be out-of-print these days but can be found for a decent price on Amazon. Looking it over, the Barcelona show adds even more songs: "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Black and Blue," "Ole Miss," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "La Vie En Rose." Now that brings the total to 39 different songs performed on this European tour (that we know of....I just made my assumptions off of about six shows and this was a three-month tour). Yes, the 39 includes sideman features but except for Kyle's "Pennies from Heaven" and "All the Things You Are" and Hall's "Dardanella," Louis played impressive, demanding horn on every other feature. That's not a bad repertoire, right? Am I nuts?

Back to the United States, the times were changing. Louis had a hit record waiting for him when he got back: "Mack the Knife." On top of that, jazz festivals and special evenings of jazz were becoming the rage. And on top (top) of that, Louis was becoming more popular than ever. So what does this mean? Well, in my earlier entires, I always talked about nightclub engagements such as the All Stars doing two or so weeks at the Blue Note in Chicago or the Club Hangover in San Francisco or Basin Street in NY. One-nighters were always the norm but they were usually the bridges that connected these longer engagements. But starting in 1956, those engagements began to disappear. With Louis's popularity on the rise, Joe Glaser could now make big, big money on one-nighters....and that's exactly what happened.

And because of the jazz festival/extravaganza evenings, the All Stars found themselves sharing more bills than ever before, meaning they'd be doing more single set shows, which we really haven't encountered. Louis always thrived on competition so he formed a high octane set that managed to spotlight himself but always still found time to feature the rest of his All Stars. But because of this, even I'll admit a certain sameness crept into the single set shows of 1956....but as usual, no two are alike.

First up, the All Stars shared a bill with Teddy Buckner during a Gene Norman-produced concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on January 20, 1955. Here's how it went down:

Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA- January 20, 1956When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
Someday You'll Be Sorry
Ole Miss
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Perdido
Dardanella
How High the Moon
The Gypsy
Undecided
Velma's Blues
That's My Desire
Ko Ko Mo
Mop Mop
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Oh, Didn't He Ramble

You have to admit that's a helluva show! And it dispenses with a lot of the biggies: "Blueberry Hill," "Kiss to Build a Dream On," "The Saints" and so many more are gone, in favor of more, I don't know, "jazzier," numbers like "Ole Miss," "Tin Roof Blues," even "The Gypsy," which Louis really tried pushing during this period.

In March, Louis shared a tour with Woody Herman. Another single set was recorded from this tour in Grand Rapids, MI and released on the GHB. Again, a pretty similar set:

Civic Auditorium, Grand Rapids, MI, March 26, 1956
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
The Gypsy
Ole Miss
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Perdido
Dardanella
How High the Moon
Mack the Knife
Margie
Velma's Blues
That's My Desire
Ko Ko Mo
Mop Mop
When the Saints Go Marchin' In

Ah ha, notice the new entry? Indeed, "Mack the Knife" is in...and it ain't leavin'! One month later, the All Stars did a broadcast from Australia that featured some of the above tunes but also two different ones, "Rockin' Chair" and "Royal Garden Blues," that we haven't seen since Europe.

And then there's the "Chicago Concert." Ah, the Great Chicago Concert, one of Louis's finest recorded nights of the 1950s. This was a special evening that featured a "50 Years of Jazz" segment that found Louis alternating with a script read by Helen Hayes. Thus, this isn't the kind of show that represented the norm so I won't share every track. But there's some interesting things here. In December 1955, Louis did a session in Milan, Italy for George Avakian's "Ambassador Satch" record. Avakian recorded it in a theater and invited a bunch of Italian fans to give it a live atmosphere but for the finished produced, Avakian added fake applause to give it more of a live feel. Because of this, Avakian treated Milan like a recording session and had the band try some different material. Surprisingly--or not--a lot of it stuck and the "Chicago Concert" featured "West End Blues," "Tiger Rag," "Clarinet Marmalade" and "The Faithful Hussar," all done in Milan (another Milan selected, left off the album, was an instrumental take on "You Can Depend On Me" that also joined the live repertoire during the same time). The "Chicago Concert" also added "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" and a medley of "Tenderly" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" to the fold, along with many songs left out of the "single set" shows: "Sunny Side of the Street," "Black and Blue," "Struttin With Some Barbecue," "Rockin' Chair" and "Basin Street Blues."

Summertime is festival season and Columbia recorded Louis at the Newport Jazz Festival, another similar "single set" show ("The Gypsy," "Bucket," "Tin Roof," "Ole Miss" and "Mack" in place) but Edmond Hall added "You Made Me Love You" as a neat feature and new bassist Dale Jones trotted out "Whispering." I'm going to save this set list for a little later (I know, I know, how long is this thing going on?). Also, before a concert at Lewisohn Stadium in July, George Avakian recorded a rehearsal in which he asked for some different songs. The All Stars complied with "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "Mahogany Hall Stomp." If you've been with me since part one, "Mahogany Hall Stomp" was a staple during the early years but really disappeared between 1951 and 1956....or so it seems (obvious reminder that I haven't heard everything). In May 1956, the All Stars played in England and Louis dedicated "Mahogany Hall Stomp" to Princess Margaret, making headlines around the world for the way he dispensed with protocol. Well, Louis couldn't resist that kind of publicity and "Mahogany Hall" made a comeback around this time.

I know it seems like I'm going concert by concert but then the bottom dropped out. Louis stopped recording for Columbia and stayed out of Europe until 1959. It was time for the one-nighters...and alas, time for us to lose track of the All Stars. Leave it to the United States; goodness knows Louis was a popular entertainer and played to sold out audiences 300 nights a year but American audiences kind of took him for granted and didn't feel the need to record and bootleg his every move like the Europeans did. Thus, there is only one known complete set list from July 1956 until Hall left the band in June 1958! But what a set list it is! It's the high school concert in Hinsdale, IL that I discussed in "Listening to the Book: Chapter 11" and included pictures from in my book. This show survives in complete form and what's beautiful about it is it's the real one-nighter show: no Newport, no Columbia Records, no gimmick, no two shows in one day. THIS is the real representation of what the All Stars did night in and night out:

Hinsdale, IL, March 27, 1957FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (opening theme)
Indiana
The Gypsy
Ole Miss
Blueberry Hill
High Society Calypso
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Perdido
Sweet Georgia Brown
Riff Blues (bass feature)
Mack the Knife
Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone
Stompin' at the Savoy
Margie
Velma's Blues
That's My Desire
Ko Ko Mo
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
SECOND SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
C'est Si Bon
La Vie En Rose
The Faithful Hussar
Muskrat Ramble
Clarinet Marmalade
St. Louis Blues
Mop Mop
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

THAT, my friends, is a show and that's what Louis Armstrong did for most of his 300 nights a year on the road. That first set is 90 minutes long! And we have something new: "High Society Calypso," part of the soundtrack to the film "High Society" and another new mainstay. "The Faithful Hussar" is also firmly in place in the second set. And other bits of pacing are taking place: Louis began almost always following bass features with "Mack the Knife"...and if he had time, he'd follow "Mack" with the "Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone" medley. I always wondered if that was on purpose. Bass features can sometimes be a little drowsy and maybe Louis figured that his big hit "Mack" would stir up the crowd. But you have to remember that "Mack the Knife" was met with some controversy when it came out as critics fretted that the bloodthirsty lyrics would incite violence in teenagers listeners. Thus, I wonder if the "Tenderly" medley was Louis's way to calm down the crowd. Just a thought.

But that second set is almost all Louis. As "Ambassador Satch," he was more known than ever before for his global travels. Therefore, a segment was born where he'd play his two French numbers, "C'est Si Bon" and "La Vie En Rose," then announce he was "stepping over into Germany" for "The Faithful Hussar." Couple that with his "trip to New Orleans" segment in the first set with "Tin Roof" and "Bucket" and Armstrong's shows were becoming little "A Man and His Music"-type revues. Oh, and Louis played on every single number in Hinsdale. Every one. Every feature. A two-and-a-half hour show.

A few months later, it was back to Newport, the scene of "High Society" so it was natural for Louis to pull out "Now You Has Jazz" and the "High Society Calypso." The movie--and both songs--proved to be so popular, they'd be a mainstay in almost every All Stars show for the next eight years. Now I'll go back and share the Newport 1956 set and then the 1957 set so if you attended both shows, you can tell some differences.

Newport Jazz Festival, July 6, 1956
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
The Gypsy
Bugle Blues/Ole Miss
Tin Roof Blues
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Perdido
You Made Me Love You
Whispering
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy
Undecided
Velma's Blues
Ko Ko Mo
Mop Mop
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

Newport Jazz Festival, July 4, 1957
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
Now You Has Jazz
High Society Calypso
Mahogany Hall Stomp
Blue Moon
Sweet Georgia Brown
Riff Blues
Mack the Knife
Lazy River
Stompin' at the Savoy
You Can Depend On Me
Ko Ko Mo
Star-Spangled Banner

Except for "Sleepy Time" and "Indiana," the drum feature "Stompin' at the Savoy" and Velma's "Ko Ko Mo," it's a completely different show (even each all Star plays a different feature from the previous year). And I hope you're noticing all the new stuff that's entered since I started this thesis. Never mind the reappearing of old favorites like "Mahogany Hall" or "Lazy River." I'm talking about stuff that was not in the All Stars's book in late 1955 but was firmly in place by 1957: the "High Society" numbers, "Mack the Knife," "The Faithful Hussar" stepping out of France, the instrumental "You Can Depend On Me," "Clarinet Marmalade" and more.

This is the first time we see "Mahogany Hall Stomp" in a live show and it wouldn't be the last as Louis spent much of 1957 playing the hell out of it to tie it into the Princess Margaret story. And without going into all the complete sets, more 1957 broadcasts featured different songs each time out: the Orpheum Theater on September 7, 1957 had the "Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone" medley, "Mahogany Hall," "Rockin' Chair," "Baby It's Cold Outside," "C'est Si Bon" and "La Vie En Rose," to name a few. In Buenos Aires in November of that year, "Tiger Rag" became a fixture, "I Get Ideas" was reintroduced and there were some songs we've barely encountered in this period like "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street"; "Lazy River" was back for a short broadcast from Canada in January 1958.

And speaking of Canada, one of my favorite Armstrong discs was of a show from North Bay, Ontario from May 16, 1958, one which I wrote about in my last "Listening to the Book" post...and accidentally provided a link to a non-existent product as this disc has become almost impossible to find, I'm sad to report. It's not a complete release but rather about 75 minutes from what seemed to be a THREE set show. And it included some more things that we haven't seen too often like "Muskrat Ramble" (which was played at only two of all the shows I've discussed in this post), "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" (heard only in the rehearsal George Avakian recorded from Lewisohn Stadium in July 1956), "Ain't Misbehavin'" (only in Buenos Aires and no where else), "You Can Depend On Me" (not Trummy's first choice as a feature but always special when it popped up), "Basin Street Blues" (big in '55, but then absent through most of the 1956 and 1957 sets) and the biggest surprise of all: a live-by-request version of "Long Gone (From Bowlin' Green)" that is completely loose and improvised and dwarfs the original version from "Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy."

But that would be that for this magnificent version of the All Stars (now featuring Mort Herbert on bass and Danny Barcelona on drums since early 1958). One month later, a bitter Edmond Hall quit the band and wasted no time in running to the press to tell them that playing the same songs every night was driving him mad and that Louis's inability to take a vacation had worn him down. I'm sure that grind could wear anyone down (except Louis it seemed--Louis had some comments of his own after Hall left that made it clear that he viewed Hall as something of a wimp). And I'm sure "Sleepy Time" and "Indiana" and some of the others could get a little maddening (but again, never to Louis). But I do think saying they played the same show every night was a cop-out.

Again, I wasn't there and maybe if someone found the other 300 shows performed each year during this period, there'd be a lot of similar shows. But I'm a scientific guy and the above shows discussed represent a wide-ranging sampling of shows performed from 1955 to 1958, sometimes days apart, sometimes weeks apart, sometimes months apart but with enough examples, I think, to be representative of what this band did night after night. And the facts are that this band never played the same show twice. If you went to see them in Sweden in 1952 and went back in 1955, you got a completely different show. If you went to see them in Newport in 1956 and went back again in 1957, you got a completely different show. And my usual test: scan all the above lists and look at what's missing. Damn, there's only two "Blueberry Hills" and zero versions of "A Kiss to Build a Dream On"! Weren't those songs Louis played every night? And how about the ones that pop up only occasionally like "Someday You'll Be Sorry," "Pretty Little Missy" or "Lazy River"?

This is just my long-winded way of hammering home the point that the All Stars had a large book, especially during the Edmond Hall years. I just scanned all of the above and came up with 58 different songs (including features) that are known to have been played by the band in this period. Oops, 59, as I keep forgetting about "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," which was played during a short broadcast from Basin Street that I didn't mention. Consider that a long, two-set show like Hinsdale featured 27 different numbers and a typical single-set one like Newport featured around 15, there were a LOT of songs not being performed every night.

But still, Edmond Hall left and was immediately replaced by Peanuts Hucko just in time for another set at Newport in 1958. This would be a longer set as it featured a special reunion with Jack Teagarden and Bobby Hackett towards the end, but please scroll up and refresh yourself with Louis's 1956 and 1957 Newport sets. Now here is what was played in 1958, with small annotations by yours truly:

Newport Jazz Festival, July 6, 1958
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (naturally)
Pretty Little Missy (new to Newport; no Indiana!)
Lazy River (1957 only)
Tiger Rag (new to Newport)
Now You Has Jazz (1957 only)
High Society Calypso (1957 only)
Ole Miss (1956 only, but in a different arrangement)
Girl of My Dreams (new, Billy Kyle feature)
After You've Gone (new, Peanuts Hucko feature)
These Foolish Things (new, Mort Herbert feature)
Mack the Knife (played at both 1956 and 1957 shows)
Tenderly/You'll Never walk Alone (new to Newport)
Stompin' at the Savoy (played at both 1956 and 1957 shows)
Undecided (1956 only)
St. Louis Blues (new to Newport)
Ko Ko Mo (played at both 1956 and 1957 shows)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In (new to Newport)
Rockin' Chair (new to Newport)
Baby Won't You Please Come Home (new to Newport)
Pennies from Heaven (new to Newport)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In (new to Newport)
Star Spangled Banner (closed in 1957)

Only four songs were repeated in each of 1956, 1957 and 1958 shows. 12 songs were never performed at the previous shows--like "When the Saints Go Marchin' In." Now there's a song everyone thinks that Louis played nightly but the set lists prove otherwise. It was called only occasionally in the early years of the band. Then around 1955, it became a popular second set opener, but didn't always make the single set show. But finally, at this stage in 1958, it was moved to closer and that's where it remained for many years. But it took 11 years for it to get there....

With Hucko aboard, there aren't many set lists from the rest of 1958 to discuss. There is one from Monterey that makes an interesting comparison but Louis was having chops trouble that night so he stretched out some of the sideman features and chose to skip some high-octane trumpet features, whereas in Newport, he was in superhuman form. Still, Monterey featured "Indiana," "Blueberry Hill," "Bucket's Got a Hole In It," "Perdido," "Autumn Leaves" (a Hucko feature) and "That's My Desire," none of those played at Newport.

But we're going to end where we began today, with the All Stars back in Europe, this time in 1959. Truthfully, I could have done an entire post analyzing the 1959 sets since the Europeans (God bless 'em) were so diligent in recording Louis frequently. But I won't (a cheer goes up from the crowd) because like the 1955 tour, Louis brought a set to Europe that worked and kept a lot of it intact night after night, but still managed to change things up and never put on the same show twice. So let's start out with our friends in Sweden. I started by showing a set from 1952 and then followed that up with one from 1955. Let's see what the All Stars did during another two-set show in Stockholm on January 16, 1959, once again with my little notes about what had and hadn't been played there prior.

Stockholm, Sweden, January 16, 1959
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (naturally at both)
Indiana (both)
Basin Street Blues (both, but a Trummy feature in 1952 and a little faster during the second set in 1955)
Tiger Rag (new)
Now You Has Jazz (new)
High Society Calypso (new)
Ole Miss (new)
All the Things You Are (Billy Kyle feature, new)
Perdido (1955 Billy Kyle feature)
Autumn Leaves (Peanuts Hucko feature, new)
After You've Gone (Hucko feature; interestingly also a clarinet feature in 1952, that time for Bob McCracken)
I Cover the Waterfront (Mort Herbert feature, new)
Ol' Man River (Herbert feature with Louis vocal, new)
Mack the Knife (new)
Stompin' at the Savoy (both)
SECOND SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Royal Garden Blues (1955 only)
Sweet Georgia Brown (Billy Kyle piano feature, new)
I Get Ideas (new)
These Foolish Things (Mort Herbert bass feature, new)
Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone (new)
The Faithful Hussar (new)
Undecided (Trummy Young feature, new)
St. Louis Blues (1955 only)
Ko Ko Mo (1955 only)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In 1955 only)

Plenty of new material since 1955; hell, the "High Society" number, "Mack the Knife" and "The Faithful Hussar" didn't even exist at the time of the previous Swedish tour (well, "Mack" had been recorded but Louis forgot about it until he got back to the United States). And that's a good representative show from this tour, though the second set is a little longer than most. This tour was a killer, lasting from January to June and featuring almost two shows every day and some ridiculous distances to travel. Louis wasn't getting any younger and though he continued to play in incredible form during this tour (check out those "Tiger Rag" blogs I did about the 1959 versions), he now allowed his sidemen to double up on their features; hell, Mort Herbert got three in the above show (though one did feature Louis heavily, including a vocal). And thus, a pattern was set up for much of the 1959 tour. Allow me to quote myself on the subject from a 2009 blog:

First Set
*Pops would feature himself on five in a row: "Sleepy Time," "Indiana," "Basin Street Blues," "Tiger Rag" and "Now You Has Jazz," the latter with a shared vocal with Trummy Young
*To pace himself, he'd call Billy Kyle out for two features, the first usually not needing the trumpet. In Amsterdam, he played "Girl of My Dreams" and "Sweet Georgia Brown."
*Then it would be time for Peanuts Hucko to play two, usually "Autumn Leaves" (no Pops) and a barn-burner such as "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" (a lot of Pops)
*After the features, Pops would step back into the spotlight and do something like "I Get Ideas"
*Mort Herbert would then do two features, both featuring Louis, who would usually play the melody on Herbert's first and sing "Old Man River" for Herbert's second outing
*Then Pops would excite the crowd with "Mack the Knife" and calm them down with his medley of "Tenderly" and "You'll Never Walk Alone"
*Wanting to excite them again, Pops would close the set with a Danny Barcelona drum feature on "Stompin' At The Savoy"

Second Set
*These would be much short but were usually very heavy on Pops. He'd open with an instrumental "Sleepy Time" before playing a hot instrumental, usually "Struttin' With Some Barbecue"
*Then it would be time for either requests or just something different. On the 1959 tour, this slot was occupied by "La Vie En Rose," "C'est Si Bon," "Faithful Hussar," "Muskrat Ramble," "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and others.
*Velma Middleton would follow with a long version of "St. Louis Blues" and "Ko Ko Mo," both featuring Pops
*"When The Saints Go Marchin' In" would always close the show on a high note

So that's pretty much how the 1959 tour went but there's also some little oddities like Louis and Velma singing "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" or request versions of "Black and Blue" and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans." Interestingly, "Blueberry Hill" and "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" still don't show up very often, if at all.

That's how Louis and the All Stars progressed through Europe in 1959. But after a brief spell in New York, they flew right back to Italy at the end of June and that's when Louis had his heart attack in Spoleto, Italy. I'll return to the "Listening to the Book' series to take you through an audio tour of post-Spoleto, early 60s Louis and then come back in a few weeks to analyze the early 60s All Stars sets, which, for the first time, did begin featuring much repetition as many of the old, demanding favorites started getting retired, one at a time. But as usual, thanks for putting up with my nonsense and if you found any of this even slightly useful or interesting, thanks!

2 comments:

Suzy said...

Hi Ricky. I was wondering if you have any information about Louis and his All Stars going on a tour of 61 colleges in 1958. I am trying to determine if my dad, a music professor at Central Washington College of Education at that time, brought Louis and the All Stars to the college for a concert that year. I would have been four years old that year. I think I have a memory of discussing this at some time in my early life. Would love to know if he played there. I love reading your blog! Louis truly was and still is one of Americas greatest treasures! Many thanks. Suzan Toney. suzan.toney@comcast.net

Yastreblyansky said...

Jeez this is a lovely blog! But you should really start indexing/labeling and install a search box so that people can find the individual posts in other ways than with the help of chance and Dr. Google.