Friday, March 22, 2013

Anatomy of an All Stars Concert - 1964-1971

When we last left our hero in part four of this series, it was 1963 and though he was still putting on great shows, the repertoire was dwindling. His chops were still up but a lot of classics from the 1950s were gone by 1963. Of course, just when he starting to fall into a bit of a pattern, along came "Hello, Dolly!" Now, Louis was bigger than ever so any thoughts of slowing down went right out the window.

The first complete set list from the "Dolly" era comes from May 4, 1964, a concert I've never heard (and frankly, I'm not sure it exists since I've never met another collector with a copy) but the sets look authentic and have been published in multiple discographies. By this point, Russell "Big Chief" Moore replaced Trummy Young on trombone, Joe Darensbourg was still on clarinet, Billy Kyle was still on piano, Arvell Shaw was back on bass, Danny Barcelona was still on drums and Jewel Brown was still handling the vocals. Here goes:

May 4, 1964 - Houston, Texas
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Tiger Rag
Now You Has Jazz
High Society Calypso
Ole Miss
Perdido (Billy Kyle feature)
Hello, Dolly!
Yellow Dog Blues (Joe Darensbourg feature)
Lover Come Back to Me (Jewel Brown feature)
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Jewel Brown feature)
Bill Bailey (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Struttin' with Some Barbecue
Back O'Town Blues
A Lot of Livin' to Do
Royal Garden Blues
Blueberry Hill
Ugly Chile (Russell "Big Chief" Moore feature)
How High the Moon (Arvell Shaw feature)
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
All of Me (Jewel Brown feature)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

As you can see, old habits die hard: the first eight songs of the first set are identical to so many of those 1962 shows. And the rundown of the sidemen features are pretty much the same. But of course, "Hello, Doll!y" is in there after the piano feature in the first set. And at the start of the second set, we now see the flip side, "A Lot of Livin' to Do," along with three challenging horn showpieces, "Struttin' with Some Barbecue," "Back O'Town Blues" and "Royal Garden Blues." No real surprises, but enough trumpet specialities to keep the hardened jazz fan in the audience satisfied.

But this show represents the end of an era: after eight years, the two songs from High Society were retired shortly after the "Dolly" explosion. Louis LOVED his songs from movies and usually kept them around for years, such as his playing "A Song is Born" regularly until 1951, four years after that film was released. Everyone loved High Society and Louis got a lot of mileage out of those two numbers, but after "Dolly," they'd be no more.

Later in 1964, Louis recorded "So Long Dearie" for Mercury, which also cracked the charts and made it into a few live shows, including one from Australia in December. The next complete set list we encounter is from another "lost" show featuring nearly the same band (Eddie Shu now on clarinet), this one from February 13, 1965:


February 13, 1965 - Miami, Florida
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Tiger Rag
It's Easy to Remember (Billy Kyle feature)
Perdido (Billy Kyle feature)
Hello, Dolly!
Memories of You (Eddie Shu feature)
La Vie En Rose
Lover Come Back to Me (Jewel Brown feature)
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Jewel Brown feature)
Bill Bailey (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Struttin' with Some Barbecue
Ole Miss
Back O'Town Blues
The Faithful Hussar
Blueberry Hill
Ugly Chile (Russell "Big Chief" Moore feature)
How High the Moon (Arvell Shaw feature)
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
All of Me (Jewel Brown feature)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Jewel Brown feature)
My Man (Jewel Brown feature)
Jeepers Creepers
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

Hello, Dolly (closing)

Now, instead of opening with eight numbers (which normally ate up over 30 minutes with himself in the spotlight), Louis only opened with five, totaling about 22 minutes. Then, after Billy Kyle's solo (or in this case, solos), "Dolly" would commence, earlier in the show without those High Society numbers. Louis also came back after Eddie Shu's solo with the last known version of "La Vie En Rose"--wish I could hear it! "Ole Miss" has now moved to the second set and instead of "A Lot of Livin' to Do,' we get "The Faithful Hussar." And then a real surprise: the last known All Stars performance of "Jeepers Creepers." It's possible that was a staple in this period since it was featured on the album Hello, Dolly! Also notice the show now ends with a reprise of "Dolly" after "Sleepy Time."  

One month later, the All Stars--now with Tyree Glenn on trombone--went on their historic tour of the Iron Curtain. Full sets survive from Prague and East Berlin that are pretty similar and illustrate the kind of show Louis was bringing with him. Here's East Berlin (and by the way, you can watch an hour of this incredible concert here....what are you waiting for?):


March 22, 1965 - East Berlin, Germany
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
Black and Blue
Tiger Rag
When I Grow Too Old to Dream (Billy Kyle feature)
Hello, Dolly!
Memories of You (Eddie Shu feature)
Lover Come Back to Me (Jewel Brown feature)
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Struttin' with Some Barbecue
The Faithful Hussar
Royal Garden Blues
Blueberry Hill
Without a Song (Tyree Glenn feature)
How High the Moon (Arvell Shaw feature)
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Jewel Brown feature)
My Man (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

Hello, Dolly (closing)

That's one hour and 40 minutes of music so with intermission, Louis was giving two hour shows now (many full shows from the 50s were nearly three hours with intermission). Louis is down to opening with only four numbers, but throughout the entire tour, "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" was replaced with "Black and Blue," a number we haven't seen with any regularity since the mid-50s. (There's probably a reason for this as I argue in my book.) The third set opens with three incredible horn features with "Barbecue," "Hussar" and "Royal Garden Blues" but by the end of the night, Louis sounds a little out of gas. Still, what he does play in this concert is 100% prime.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Immediately after the tour, Louis took six weeks off for major dental work. When he came back, opening with another European tour, he was feeling high and happy in London as BBC caught him playing "Barbecue," "Bucket," "Royal Garden," "Black and Blue," "Back O'Town Blues" and "Muskrat Ramble" (haven't seen that one since 1961). But just days later, Louis played a historic concert in front of a huge crowd in Budapest. Though commercially unissued, I've heard it and can attest that Louis struggles. He doesn't sound bad, but he's not as on target as he was in Berlin. With Buddy Catlett on bass, this is the Budapest show:


June 9, 1965 - Budapest, Hungary
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
Black and Blue
My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Tiger Rag
When I Grow Too Old to Dream (Billy Kyle feature)
Perdido (Billy Kyle feature)
Hello, Dolly!
On the Alamo (Eddie Shu feature)
Ole Miss
Lover Come Back to Me (Jewel Brown feature)
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Jewel Brown feature)
Bill Bailey (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Struttin' with Some Barbecue
Basin Street Blues
Royal Garden Blues
Blueberry Hill
Volare (Tyree Glenn feature)
Blues in the Closet (Buddy Catlett feature)
Mack the Knife

Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
All of Me (Jewel Brown feature)
Georgia On My Mind (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

Like the Iron Curtain tours, "Black and Blue" remained in place in favor of "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" but otherwise, everything is status quo. One difference is we get "Ole Miss" later in the first set, which sounds like it surprised the band as they had just started playing Jewel Brown's entrance music. And in the second set, it's nice to see "Basin Street Blues," which was no longer a nightly staple as it was throughout the 50s.

Less than a month later, someone recorded about 90 minutes of a show in Vallejo, California, now with Buster Bailey on clarinet. By this point, Armstrong was coming to grips that his chops were not responding like he wished they were. It was during this month that reviewers started noticing how tired he looked on stage and in interviews with Patrick Scott and Richard Meryman, Louis sometimes bitterly hinted at how he wanted to retire and unhappy he was as a "prisoner of this grind."

I don't need to share the entire set but can tell you that Vallejo began the same was as the others: "Sleepy Time," "Indiana," "Black and Blue," "Bucket" and "Tiger Rag." But then Kyle did two features before "Dolly," followed by Bailey doing two features of his own. And then something completely different: Tyree Glenn began taking his vibes with him and he'd two two numbers on vibes before Jewel Brown. So in a 16-song first set, Louis was front and center for only seven. Then in the second set, where we've seen him open with three or four trumpet home runs, he only did "Struttin' with Some Barbecue" and an old favorite we haven't seen since 1962, "Tin Roof Blues" (no solo). Clearly, he was pacing himself more than ever though what he does play is excellent ("Barbecue" especially has a strong, and different than usual, solo).

This pattern continued almost exactly to a tee in the next full set we have from Houston on October 24, 1965, though "Ole Miss" came back on that night. Interestingly, shortly after, Louis attempted "Ole Miss" for the soundtrack to A Man Called Adam. Though it didn't make the finished album, it did contain a rare trumpet solo. Louis always played furiously on that number but stopped taking a solo on it in the mid-50s. From 1965 until 1971, when the chops were up, he'd take a solo, sometimes one chorus, and if they were really up, two. 

Also, in the summer of 1965, Louis recorded an episode of the ABC television show Shindig that featured him doing "A Lot of Livin' to Do." He appeared on The Dean Martin Show soon after and did "Someday You'll Be Sorry" and "So Long Dearie" with the All Stars. So it's probable that they all stayed in the repertoire through 1965, but perhaps not with any regularity.

And then comes 1966, another lost year. There's a few reasons for this. For one, there was no overseas touring and as we've proven time and again, it's the Europeans that really captured the All Stars over and over again over the years. Home for the year, American fans weren't into bootlegging Pops. Also, Louis spent four months at Jones Beach doing a show with Guy Lombardo, "Mardi Gras." He'd do a short set in the show and play for dancers after but none of these were ever recorded.

Up to a few years ago, 1966 was really a completely lost year but then our friend John McDonough showed up to save the day again. In my last entry, I mentioned how McDonough taped Louis at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois in 1960, capturing all sorts of odd, terrific song selections, like "West End Blues." On December 11, 1966, McDonough was present for an All Stars show at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. If you remember what I said last time, McDonough had the habit of not recording sideman features or numbers he didn't like, sometimes turning the tape off in the middle of a solo or feature. So we only have 47 minutes of the concert to pick apart but there's some interesting stuff here. Personnel had changed yet again with Marty Napoleon now on piano, replacing the deceased Billy Kyle in February of that year. 

December 11, 1966 - Chicago, Illinois
FIRST SET (INCOMPLETE)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
St. James Infirmary
Tiger Rag
Please Don't Talk About My When I'm Gone (Marty Napoleon feature)
Memphis Blues (Buster Bailey feature)
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
SECOND SET (INCOMPLETE)
Ole Miss
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
The Faithful Hussar
Muskrat Ramble
Cheesecake
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

You'll notice two brand new numbers in the repertoire: "St. James Infirmary" used to be a feature first for Jack Teagarden and then Arvell Shaw but starting in 1966, Louis began using it to spotlight himself on vocals...and when he was feeling especially good, trumpet. Also, in 1966, he recorded a novelty for Mercury, "Cheesecake," and that made it into the show. The second set still opens with a string of Armstrong trumpet specialties: "Ole Miss," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "The Faithful Hussar" and "Muskrat Ramble." However, this is when we notice that some changes were really being made: Louis does not solo on "Indiana" or "Muskrat Ramble" and he restructured the end of "Hussar" so he didn't go quite as high as he did in 1965.  God, how it must have hurt him, realizing that those incredible solos he worked so hard to perfect had now become too difficult to execute. Thus, even though he was still playing the horn, without taking some solos, he was playing less than ever (and on nights when he didn't solo on "St. James" or "Ole Miss," even less.

Louis did have a few recording sessions in 1966, one for Mercury that resulted in the semi-hit "Mame" and another for Columbia that resulted in a cover of "Cabaret." Both would make it into the act in 1967; "Cabaret" especially became a nightly favorite. 

There's nothing from the first part of 1967 to discuss; Buster Bailey died that spring and then Louis had to shut down the operation for six weeks because of pneumonia. While he was off, he called Tyree Glenn into the hospital to work on some new routines. Jewel Brown had been singing with the band since 1961 but never did any numbers with Louis. Realizing he was having to play less and less, Louis wanted to bring some of his old comedic specialities into the band. He taught Glenn the old routines on "That's My Desire" and "Rockin' Chair" and they became part of the act in the summer of 1967. For years, he also played a medley of "Tenderly" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." He knew his chops couldn't stand up to that demanding medley, but he loved those songs, so he took to playing a short bit of "Tenderly" and singing an emotional "You'll Never Walk Alone."

These changes are reflected in the set lists that survive from the summer of 1967. In fact, three sets from three straight days survive and they show some differences depending on the state of Louis's chops. I've written about Louis's sad July 25, 1967 Copenhagen show before, which was followed by two better days at the Antibes Jazz Festival in Juan-Les-Pins, France. From that festival, here's the July 27, 1967 set. The All Stars were now Louis, Tyree Glenn, Joe Muranyi on clarinet, Marty Napoleon, Buddy Catlett, Danny Barcelona and Jewel Brown:

July 27, 1967 - Juan-Les-Pins, France
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
Tiger Rag
The Girl from Ipanema (Marty Napoleon feature)
Hello, Dolly!
Pee Wee's Blues (Joe Muranyi feature)
Avalon (Tyree Glenn vibes feature)
Don't Take You Love from Me (Tyree Glenn vibes feature)
This Could Be the Start of Something Big (Jewel Brown feature)
Time After Time (Jewel Brown feature)
Bill Bailey (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Ole Miss
Cabaret
Muskrat Ramble
Blueberry Hill
Volare (Tyree Glenn feature)
That's My Desire (Louis and Tyree Glenn)
Blues in the Closet (Buddy Catlett feature)
Mack the Knife
What the World Needs Now (Jewel Brown feature)
What a Difference a Day Made (Jewel Brown feature)
Every Day I Have the Blues (Jewel Brown feature)
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
Medley: Tenderly and You'll Never Walk Alone
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South

We're still down to just four opening songs and on one of them, "St. James Infirmary," Louis wasn't feeling up to playing a single note, just singing three choruses. But you do see "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," which Joe Muranyi told me was t the true sign that Louis's chops were up in 1967 and 1968. That was usually proof that it was going to be a good night of blowing and sure enough, Louis comes out for the second set with some demanding paying on "Ole Miss," "Cabaret" and "Muskrat Ramble." Only six years earlier, he could still knock out "West End Blues" when the spirit hit him but now he was satisfied to get through "Kiss." You'll also notice "That's My Desire" and the "Tenderly/You'll Never Walk Alone" medley making appearances in the second set.

This whole first comeback was too much too soon and by September, Louis was sick again. But when he went back to traveling in October, he was once again refreshed. Joe Muranyi wrote some breathless postcards to Jack Bradley (which can be read at the Louis Armstrong House Museum's Archives) in which he bragged about Pops's chops and how he even took a request for "When You're Smiling" one night and played the "high note ending" (I seriously doubt, he did the entire chorus a la 1929 or 1957 but even a half chorus, or the last eight bars, would have been thrilling). The very next night, the band landed in Miami and fortunate, someone had a tape recorder rolling. Here it is, the last surviving, full, two-set set list:


November 13, 1967 - Miami, Florida
FIRST SET
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
What a Wonderful World
St. James Infirmary
Tiger Rag
The Song Is Ended (Buddy Catlett feature)
The Girl from Ipanema (Marty Napoleon feature)
Sunrise, Sunset  (Marty Napoleon feature)
Hello, Dolly!
Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Joe Muranyi feature)
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans (Joe Muranyi feature)
Avalon (Tyree Glenn vibes feature)
Misty (Tyree Glenn vibes feature)
This Could Be the Start of Something Big (Jewel Brown feature)
Time After Time (Jewel Brown feature)
Bill Bailey (Jewel Brown feature)
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SET
Ole Miss
Cabaret
The Faithful Hussar
Blueberry Hill
Volare (Tyree Glenn feature)
That's My Desire (Louis and Tyree Glenn)
What the World Needs Now (Jewel Brown feature)
What a Difference a Day Made (Jewel Brown feature)
Good Mornin' Blues (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop
Mack the Knife
Stompin' at the Savoy (Danny Barcelona feature)
Medley: Tenderly and You'll Never Walk Alone

It's a lot of features but I can tell you that when Louis plays, he's in great shape, as I've proven on here before with this mind-blowing St. James Infirmary. In France in July, he didn't blow one note on that number, but here, he plays two choruses up front and two dramatic ones at the close, showing that when the chops were up, you couldn't stop him. He even takes a two chorus solo on "Ole Miss" (cleverly quoting "Moon Over Miami") and a brand new solo on "Cabaret," digging out his old favorite, Drdla's "Souvenir."

We also get his latest recording, "What a Wonderful World" in the first set. It kind of bombed in the United States because of a lack of promotion, but that didn't stop Louis from featuring it every night in the slot after "Indiana" (it eventually became a number one hit overseas). Louis and Tyree's routine on "That's My Desire" is now part of the show and the new closer is the medley of "Tenderly" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." And it's nice to see (and hear) "The Faithful Hussar" still hanging in there after its 1955 debut. Louis couldn't shoot out the lights on it as he did in 1965 but he managed to always tailor it to his strengths, taking the rideout down a few notes in Chicago in 1966 and coming up with new, also slightly less chop-busting riffs in 1967.

But like I said, even to do such great blowing so late in the game, Louis had to let everyone else double up on their features. Look at some of the 1950s sets in this series to see nights where Louis blew like a wild man on every number, even the features. By 1967, he picks his spots, but always makes it count (including a half chorus of melody on Joe Muranyi's feature, "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," an old All Stars favorite from the early days; it always tickled Joe, hearing Louis come in on the bridge).

Unfortunately, that's the last complete, two-set set list we have to analyze. There's a short broadcast from Las Vegas in December 1967 but nothing during the first four months of 1968. On TV, however, Louis began playing "Willkommen," which he recorded for Brunswick in 1967, so that might have been added to the repertoire. In February, he began recording Disney Songs the Satchmo Way. He must have known "The Bare Necessities" was a winner because he featured it on the Academy Awards and on The Tonight Show in April before the album was even released.

There are a few single sets from 1968 that survive and it's interesting to see what Louis was doing when he had one set to work his magic. Here's one from New Orleans:

May 19, 1968 - New Orleans Jazz Fest
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
What a Wonderful World 
Tiger Rag
Girl From Ipanema (Marty Napoleon feature)
Hello, Dolly
Just a Closer Walk with Thee (Joe Muranyi feature)
Someday
It's All Right With Me (Tyree Glenn feature)
This Could Be The Start of Something Big (Jewel Brown feature)
Time After Time (Jewel Brown feature)
Blueberry Hill
When the Saints Go Marchin' In

Clearly, an hour was becoming tough to fill because Louis had so many damn hits by this point (also, not enough time to feature Danny Barcelona and Buddy Catlett). Naturally, there's "Dolly" (with a shoutout to Louis's sister "Mama Lucy" in the audience), and "What a Wonderful World" had just hit number 1 in England, plus "Blueberry Hill" and the "Saints"; no time for "Mack the Knife." But to show that the trumpet was still there, he plays well on "Indiana" (though the solo was gone for good), "Dolly" and the biggest surprise, "Someday You'll Be Sorry," which we haven't seen since the Hello, Dolly album of 1964. It was a favorite with some New Orleans Jazz Club members so perhaps Louis did it for them by request.

On the strength of "What a Wonderful World," Louis headed to England in June 1968. He did two weeks at the Batley Variety Club in Yorkshire, England. Someone taped one set and ti's similar to the above but Louis found time to feature Catlett and Barcelona, plus do "That's My Desire" with Tyree. This left Louis in the spotlight only for "Sleepy Time," "Indiana," "Wonderful World," "Tiger Rag," "Dolly," "Blueberry Hill" and the "Saints," which really wasn't a lot. But a shorter surviving bootleg from Batley has "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" and "Mack the Knife," both with great trumpet, so obviously he'd stretch himself a bit when feeling up to it. 

On July 2, 1968, Louis did two one hour television shows for the BBC. Instead of setting it up like a standard two-set show, each show kind of works like independent single-set shows, in terms of pacing and featuring everybody. Still, a good representation of what was in the book in the summer of 1968:

July 2, 1968 - London, England
FIRST SHOW
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
The Girl from Ipanema (Marty Napoleon feature)
Hello, Dolly
It's Alright With me (Tyree Glenn vibes feature)
Rockin' Chair (Louis and Tyree Glenn)
Time After Time (Jewel Brown feature)
That's Life (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop (Danny Barcelona feature)
Mame
What a Wonderful World
When the Saints Go Marchin' In
SECOND SHOW
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Ole Miss
Blueberry Hill
Sunrise, Sunset (Marty Napoleon feature)
Mack the Knife
Undecided (Joe Muranyi feature)
Mood Indigo (Tyree Glenn feature)
That's My Desire (Louis and Tyree Glenn)
You'll Never Walk Alone
There'll Be Some Changes Made (Jewel Brown feature)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Jewel Brown feature)
Mop Mop (Danny Bacelona feature)
Bare Necessities
What a Wonderful World
Hello, Dolly
Except for "Cabaret" and "Tiger Rag," I'd imagine that's everything Louis felt comfortable with by this point. His trumpet was in good form and he blows very well on "Indiana" and "Ole Miss," though no solo on either. "What a Wonderful World" is in both shows because it was the hit, but we also get "Dolly," "Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Blueberry," "Mack" and "The Saints," in addition to the less-often played "Mame" and the brand new "Bare Necessities." Louis and Tyree also dust off the old routine on "Rockin' Chair" in addition to "That's My Desire," while Louis managed to squeeze in a touching "You'll Never Walk Alone" without the "Tenderly" opening. Louis, in particular, loved these concerts. When he got the audio recordings, he dubbed them to his reel-to-reel tapes multiple times, labeling one tape "For the Fans." Sure enough, Louis's desire for his fans to hear these shows was made possible when Brunswick cobbled together Louis's best moments for the 1970 LP, Louis Armstrong's Greatest Hits Recorded Live, giving Louis producer credit. Some of the videos from these shows have popped up on YouTube (search for "Louis Armstrong 1968" and you'll run into a batch of them in color); we can only hope for a proper DVD release one day.

By September 1968, Louis was in the hospital and fighting for his life in intensive care. Released once in November, he was right back there in January 1969 and didn't come back out until April 1969. Once back home, doctor's forbid him from playing. He continued to practice every night but spent the next year at home, working on his tapes and writing autobiographical manuscripts.

By early 1970, Louis was allowed to appear on television talk shows, always singing a variety of material: "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," "I Surrender Dear," "St. Louis Blues," "Moon River," "Jeepers Creepers," "What a Wonderful World," "I'm Confessin'," and more, but never with the All Stars. 

Finally, in the summer of 1970, Louis was allowed to reunite with the All Stars for two weeks at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, where he shared the bill with Pearl Bailey. Louis was given 30 minutes a night--a long way off from the days of the 2 1/2 hour shows--but he was so happy to back on stage with his band that he threw everything he had into it. Nothing survives from the Vegas gigs but at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, we have one of Louis's handwritten set lists:

As you can see, Louis was ready to play. As originally written by Louis, he would have played at least some trumpet on "Sleepy Time," "Indiana," "Some Day," "Tiger Rag," "Hello, Dolly," "Pretty Little Missy" and "When the Saints Go Marching In," only taking a break to throw it over to Marty Napoleon for a feature. But that might have proven to be too much as he crossed out "Pretty Little Missy" and replaced it with the vocal-only "What a Wonderful World" (Joe Muranyi also got a feature that ended with a "G chord"; each All Star got one feature per set). Louis was back and critics like Leonard Feather raved that the trumpet sounded good and everything was as it was in 1968 before the illness.

After the International Hotel, Louis did another two weeks in Vegas in late 1970. Once again, we turn to Louis's own hand; in one of his catalogs of handwritten song lyrics, Louis wrote out the following:

 DAILY ROUTINE - TROPICANA HOTEL
LAS VEGAS NEVADA 12/26/70 to 8/71

1. Sleepy Time
2. Indiana
3. Someday
4. Moe's Solo (bass) [Edmund "Mo" Scarazzo played bass on this engagement]
5. Pretty Little Missy
6. Tiger Rag
7. Marty's Solo (piano) [Marty Napoleon]
8. Hello, Dolly
9. Joe Muranyi's Solo (Clarinet)
10. Kiss to Build a Dream On
11. Tyree Glen's Solo 2 (trombone)
12. Jim Jaye's Drum solo [Jim Jaye--possible wrong name--played drums for this engagement]
13. Boy From New Orleans

Under that set list, Louis added the following "Alternate Numbers":
All the Time in the World
Mack the Knife
Blueberry Hill
What a Wonderful World
You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans
That's My Desire

So that's what Louis was doing for his two weeks in Vegas, now up to an hour a night and still featuring a good deal of trumpet.

Of course, the final engagement was at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, March 2-15, 1971 with Louis and the All Stars doing two one-hour sets a night. Before the gig, Louis went on TV with the All Stars and did a variety of numbers, including "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," "Ole Miss" (with trumpet solo)," "Pretty Little Missy" and "Blueberry Hill." He was also now featuring "Boy from New Orleans" regularly at this point. The Waldorf gigs ended with a large house orchestra augmenting the All Stars for "What a Wonderful World" and "Boy from New Orleans" but also, very possibly, "We Have All the Time in the World" and "Pretty Little Missy" since Louis had large band arrangements of both those numbers.

John S. Wilson gave Louis a positive review on opening night and mentioned Louis playing the trumpet on "Indiana," "Some Day" and "Tiger Rag." So if I had to guess, I'd say the Waldorf sets probably looked a lot like the above list from the Tropicana in Vegas, just with features for Arvell Shaw and Danny Barcelona added instead of Mo Scarazzo and Jim Jaye (Jewel Brown didn't rejoin after Louis's 1968 illness), plus the big band arrangements of the aforementioned tunes.

Most interestingly, at the same time Louis created his "Daily Routine" for the 1970-1971 Tropicana gigs, he created a separate handwritten "List of tunes - to call." Now, a few of these tunes were songs he hadn't played with any regularity in the last few years but the majority were there in that 1966-1971 period when he started his decline. Deep down, he probably thought he was getting better and would be back to performing regularly soon enough and he wanted to have a repertoire of tunes to call from. In fact, he had six tunes arranged in the beginning of 1971 to allow him and Tyree Glenn to sit in with different musicians whenever they wanted (as they did at the National Press Club in January 1971): "Boy From New Orleans," "Hello, Dolly," "That's My Desire," "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," "What a Wonderful World" and most surprisingly--since we haven't encountered it since 1962--"I Get Ideas." So here's Louis's final "List of tunes - to call" from 1971:

1. Sleepy Time
2. Indiana
3. Wonderful World
4. Kiss to Build a Dream On
5. Muskrat Ramble
6. Hello Dolly
7. I Get Ideas
8. Someday
9. I Cried for You
10. Blueberry Hill
11. Mac the Knife
12. Stomping at the Savoy
13. St. James Infirmary
14. Tenderly - You'll Never Walk Alone
15. Saints
16. Ole Miss
17. Tin Roof Blues
18. Ol' Rockin' Chair
19. That's My Desire
20. Royal Garden Blues
21. Basin St. Blues
22. Sunnyside of the Street
23. I Surrender Dear
24. Bare Necessities
25. Vilcomen
26. No Time is good time [really, "No Time is a Good Good-Bye Time"]
27. Cabaret
28. Mame
29. Cheese Cake
30. You Rascal You
31. That's My Home
32. You Can Depend One Me
33. All the Time in the World

So there's some odd choices there; "I Cried for You" hadn't been done since Velma, "Sunny Side," "That's My Home" and "Royal Garden" disappeared by the mid-60s, "You Can Depend On Me" was a feature for Trummy in the 50s, etc. But overall, it illustrates how the Armstrong repertoire expanded in the All Stars years. James Lincoln Collier claimed that Louis was playing the same sets at the end of his life as he was doing at the birth of the All Stars in 1947. But in 1947, the following songs were not even tackled yet by Louis: "Wonderful World," "Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Hello, Dolly!" "I Get Ideas," "Blueberry Hill," "Mack the Knife," "Tenderly-You'll Never Walk Alone," "Ole Miss," "Tin Roof Blues," "Bare Necessities," "Wilcommen," "No Time is a Good Good-bye Time," "Cabaret," "Mame," "Cheese Cake," and "We Have All the Time in the World." Not to mention other All Stars favorites like "The Gypsy," "The Bucket's Got a Hole In It," "A Lot of Living to Do," "The Faithful Hussar," "Jazz Me Blues," "La Vie En Rose," "C'est Si Bon," "Ko Ko Mo"....the list goes on and on.

I know this was an exhausting (and hopefully exhaustive) series, but if it illustrated that the All Stars had a huge book and their show was consistently evolving, I've done my job. I'm going to collapse now but I suggest you spin some of the great live concerts that survive: Satchmo at Symphony Hall, Satchmo at Pasadena, Louis at the Crescendo, The Great Chicago Concert, Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl, Live in East Berlin, etc.....all great. Long live the All Stars!

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