Louis Armstrong and His All Stars
Recorded April 25, 1963
Track Time 5:09
Written by Otis Rene, Leon Rene and Ben Ellison
Recorded in Tokyo, Japan
Armstrong, trumpet, vocal; Trummy Young, trombone; Joe Darensbourg, clarinet; Billy Kyle, piano; Arvell Shaw, bass; Danny Barcelona, drums.
Currently available on CD: See here (helps if you can read Japanese!)
Available on Itunes? No
Back in December, I wrote an 80th anniversary post on Louis Armstrong's history with the beautiful song, That's My Home. In addition to the two famous Victor recordings from 1932, I also included the stunning remake for Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography in 1956.
Those were all pretty well known to Pops nuts so it was with great pleasure that I got to spring an unissued live version from Newport in 1961 that over the years, had settled into being my favorite version. Just the fact that Louis was still playing this number--and playing it so well--at 60-years-old was cause for celebration and the response I got from readers justified my enthusiasm.
After working myself into a lather, I wrote, "Well,
now I have to go lie down but that's the end, unfortunately, of our
look at 'That's My Home.' I don't know how much more I can handle but
truthfully, more might pop up. Though this is the last surviving
performance, Arvell Shaw joined the band in late 1962 and remembered
Louis playing this often (making Shaw cry every time). And I've found
reviews of Armstrong performances in both 1963 and 1964 that praise
Louis's playing on this number. So it didn't disappear, but as of now,
none of those other versions were performed in front of a recording
I'm happy to report that I spoke too soon! Earlier this summer I got a Facebook message my friend and fellow lover of all things Louis (including Prima and Jordan), Ron Canatella, who asked me if I noticed a new CD release of Louis and the All Stars live at the Latin Quarter in Tokyo, Japan, April 23, 1963.
What??? A new Pops release that slipped by me!? I was shocked. Not only did I not know about the CD but I also didn't even know the set existed in any form. Nor did any of my discographer fans.
I expressed this to Ron and immediately started Googling it, trying to find something--anything!--that I could purchase. But bless him, Ron already found it somehow and within minutes, sent me the link. That's what I call a true friend.
It's only a one-hour set and it's the All Stars doing what they did. A glance at the set list would make a naysayer say, "Nay nay, more Sleepy Time and Indiana and Blueberry Hill and Mack the Knife....ugh." But if you're already reading this, you know I have an unhealthy obsession with the All Stars so even if the set contains (almost) no surprises, 1963 has always been kind of the lost year for Armstrong recordings, with only a half-hour broadcast from December 31, 1962 and a DVD of an Australian concert (with little trumpet) surviving before the "Hello, Dolly!" session of December. So of course I wanted to hear how Pops was sounding during this period. The answer, of course, is fantastic.
But as already alluded to, there was one surprise and it's a dan-dan-dandy: the last surviving (for now!) live performance of "That's My Home," almost two full years after the Newport version! I couldn't wait to listen to it and sure enough, it's another knockout. The 1961 one still might be better overall because the band is completely locked in. Here, clarinetist Joe Darensbourg is a little pitchy and bassist Arvell Shaw turns in an erratic performance (maybe he cried every time he played it because of all the clams, not because of Louis's majesty). Shaw actually joined in January and this is April so it's possible that "That's My Home" wasn't called very often--in fact, it's probable because a LOT of Armstrong survives from 1962 and it includes zero versions of this tune. And it was never in the book while Shaw was in the band the first three go-arounds, so it's possible he had never played it or heard it before. (He lays out during the interlude after Louis's vocal then comes in at the start instead of the bridge, another sign this was probably a new one for him.)
But I'll give him and Darensbourg a pass; this is the Louis Armstrong show and brother, he's the whole show, playing a soulful chorus up front, singing his heart out and then picking up that golden trumpet for 16 final triumphant bars.
To show you that I have the world's greatest friends, after Ron sent it to me, I shared the Japanese concert with some trusted friends in my Armstrong inner circle. Trumpeter Phil Person is blessed (cursed?) with perfect pitch and he heard the recording as being slightly off. He took the time to pitch correct it and sent it back to me with everything in the proper key. So here is "That's My Home" the way it really sounded that night in Tokyo in 1963..enjoy!
Phew. Those last 8, when Trummy takes the melody and Louis soars above....mm-mm-mm. Any comments out there from the gallery? Please share them below. As for me, I think I'm going to listen to it again. Thank you, Ron! Thank you, Phil!
And thank you, Louis!