We're one step closer, folks, one step closer. Last Friday, I wrote about how the good folks at Mosaic Records were going to make our upcoming 9-CD Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and His All Stars available for pre-order on April 30, International Jazz Day. Terrific! I shared the cover, alerted the world to watch out and waited for an announcement....
....an announcement that never came. International Jazz Day was swinging, but all seemed quiet on the Mosaic front. Then, around 11 a.m., I got a Facebook notification from my friend--and fellow Pops nut--Craig McNamara: "The mosaic set is now available. My order is already in." About 20 minutes later, the great Simone Dabusti of Italy, added "Me too!"
I went to the Mosaic site and saw nothing. How were they finding it? And then I noticed that if I clicked the "Artists" tab, scrolled to Louis and clicked....there it was! Pretty sneaky, sis. There were still kinks to be worked out--such as no photo of the box on top--which made Mosaic's hesitancy to sound the horns about the availability of the set.
But available it was and my goodness, you can't stop the Pops nuts! After Craig and Simone, I decided to share the link on my Facebook page and the Organissimo forums and for the last two years, the pre-orders have been tallying up. Still no official announcement from Mosaic, but it's now officially on the front page of their website as an "Upcoming Release," which is exciting to see. June 1 is still the assumed street date but if you're in a pre-order kind of mood (need I remind you that Mother's Day AND Father's Day are both right around the corner....) here is the link:
Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and His All Stars
Oh, that felt good. Let's try that about:
Pops Mosaic Set Ready For Pre-Order...About Damn Time, Rick!
Hmmm, I didn't like the attitude on that link. Anyway, if after all these posts, you're still a little confused just by what this set will contains here's the link to the Discography. Small note: the track listing isn't up yet and this is an earlier draft of the discography. Actually, the discography is fine, but in the Producer's Note, we added some people to the thank-you's and changed the "Carnegie Hall" mistake to "Town Hall" in the second paragraph. I don't know, but I'm assuming Mosaic is still going to tinker with this stuff, too, before they officially send out any announcements and such. So keep checking back for that but because I just can't contain myself, now you have the link if you want to get the jump on the pre-orders.
Also, I haven't discussed it much, but for the vinyl-philes out there (which seems to be everyone), Mosaic is putting Louis's complete 1956 and 1958 Newport sets on special 180-gram vinyl, a 4-LP set with slightly different notes by yours truly. This one will be limited to 3,500 copies and is also available for pre-order by clicking this link.
In other news, another "Ricko Approved" Pops release came out a couple of weeks ago and it might be perfect for the Armstrong newbie or for the casual Armstrong fan who might run screaming in the other direction with all this Mosaic talk of alternate takes and fake applause. It's simply called Icons, part of a long-running series Universal has been overseeing for some time. It's 22 tracks over 2-CDs and I'm happy to report that I provided the track selection. I had the entire Universal Armstrong catalog to choose from (Decca, Verve, Mercury, Kapp, ABC-Paramount, etc.) and it was pitched to me as the kind of release aimed for a general fan perhaps shopping at Best Buy or somewhere that still sells CDs (if those kinds of places still exist). So with that in mind, I had to cut some personal favorites ("That's for Me," live "Bucket's Got a Hole in It," "On a Coconut Island") but I also cut some of the hits I saw as expendable ("Mame," "Cabaret," "Kiss of Fire"). In the end, this is what I came up with:
What A Wonderful World
Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
Our Love Is Here To Stay With Ella Fitzgerald
Summertime With Ella Fitzgerald
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)
Mack The Knife (Live From Jazz At The Hollywood Bowl)
(When We Are Dancing) I Get Ideas
A Kiss To Build A Dream On
La Vie En Rose
Dream A Little Dream Of Me With Ella Fitzgerald
You Rascal You (I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) With Louis Jordan
That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)
When It's Sleepy Time Down South (Instrumental)
West End Blues
When The Saints Go Marching In
Struttin' With Some Barbecue
Swing That Music
What do you think? I'm happy with it. Nothing before 1936 but Universal doesn't own much from the 1920s ("Georgia Bo Bo" would have been out of place). Also, I've noticed that some of Universal's recent Armstrong compilations had some inferior-sounding versions of certain tracks, such as "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and the 1938 "Struttin' with Some Barbecue." I was happy to help Universal do a little digging and with the help of the great Seth Foster at Sterling Sound, I think we found the best sounding masters for each of the 22 tracks. So again, if you're looking for a more general Pops best-of, check out "Icons"!
And that's that for now. I'll continue waiting for Mosaic to wave the flag and I'll pop back in when that occurs and when the website seems finalized (again, that's not stopping the pre-orders!). And we're already planning some fun stuff for the summer, including a possible launch party at Minton's in June, a listening party at Jazz at Lincoln Center on July 3 and a presentation by Scott Wenzel and myself on the making of this set at the Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans in August. Fun times ahead, folks....thanks for help making this such a fun, satisfying ride!