Friday, May 19, 2017

Dot Time, Mosaic Records, Universal--Pops Madness (aka Save Your Money!)

If you're a Louis Armstrong fan but don't have a lot of disposable income at the moment, do yourself a favor and stop reading now. But if that tax check is burning a hole in your pocket, step this way!

I obviously don't blog as much as I used to but don't worry, everything I'm doing is for the cause and the effects of my efforts should be felt by Pops fans for years to come. First up, in my last entry, I previewed the upcoming Louis Armstrong Legacy Series from Dot Time Records. Well, I'm happy to report that the first release--The Standard Oil Sessions--is out and if I say so myself, it's pretty great.


The music features Louis, Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines (plus three non-All Stars) in splendid form during the recording sessions for a broadcast of Standard Oil's Standard School Broadcast in 1951. The finished broadcast used severely edited versions of the performances but the complete session was sent to Louis on a series of acetate discs in 1950. Dot Time has issued the whole shebang and thanks to engineer wizard Lou Jimenez, it sounds better than I ever could have anticipated.

If you remember from last time, this is volume one of a four volume series. Each volume will be available in a standard edition and a "Collector's Edition." The Collector's Edition features a (long) essay by me, a series of rare photos from the collections of the Louis Armstrong House Museum and a terrific bonus track of Louis playing along with "Back O'Town Blues" from one of the Standard Oil performances. The Collector's Edition is a little more money but it's really the way to go if you're serious about Louis. There's only two ways to obtain it: I'm happy to report that as of this morning, it is now available in the Gift Shop of the Louis Armstrong House Museum so if you're in Corona, grab it!

The other way is to go to the Dot Time website here and order online. You can subscribe to the entire four-volume series up front, pay in advance and get all the Collector's Editions before they're released anywhere else. Producer Jerry Roche visited last week and we hammered out the details of what will appear on the next volume, which will be a compilation of unissued nightclub broadcasts from 1951-1958 and believe me, it's going to be dynamite!

If you're a more casual fan, you can get the cheaper regular edition at Amazon by clicking here. That version has super short liner notes and no bonus track, but the complete 1950 session is there. And if you're one of the younger generation who don't own a CD player, don't worry, it will be streaming soon and will be available on vinyl this fall! More details to come as I get them. (And I don't want to sound greedy but obviously, the more sales Dot Time gets, the more chances there'll be of volumes 5, 6, 7, 8 to 100 in the future!)

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I want to say a few quick words about Mosaic Records, too, while I have the floor. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that putting together the 9-CD Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars boxed set with Scott Wenzel a few years ago was one of the great joys of my life. Mosaic sent out an e-mail to their loyal fans a couple of weeks back and founder Michael Cuscuna didn't hold back: times are tough and Mosaic needs some financial help or it might not be around much longer.

From what I've heard, fans sprung into action and began buying up sets at a record-breaking pace, something that warmed my heart. Nobody has done more for the world of jazz reissues than Mosaic and frankly, nobody has ever done it better. They have two Louis sets currently print and I'll be honest, I've been in talks with Scott about doing a third but there might not be anything to do if Mosaic has to cease operations. So head over to MosaicRecords.com and pick up a set for you or someone you love. Here's a link to the Decca set, which has been on backorder but is ready to ship in June, and to mine and Scott's live Columbia and RCA Victor set. Long live Mosaic Records!

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Earlier this year I posted links to and liner notes for two Armstrong digital sets put out by Universal, The Decca Singles, 1949-1958 and an expanded edition of Louis, Armstrong's complete Mercury recordings. I'm happy to report that both have done so well, Universal has asked for more! I know there will always be grumbling about digital-only content but I've embraced it entirely and am happy to see a major label wanting to at least do something productive with its back catalog rather than letter it turn to dust in a vault. I'll have more details about those when I'm allowed to share them but for the hardcore CD buyer, don't worry, we'll have a 4-CD "Complete Ella and Louis" boxed set due out around the beginning of July. Details forthcoming but suffice to say, save your money because the Pops just won't stop!

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Finally, the Louis Armstrong House Museum has unveiled its new website! Check it out at LouisArmstrongHouse.org. Thanks to the good folks at Digital Natives for helping us put it together! Also, I hope you're following the Louis Armstrong House Museum on social media because I've been having so much fun posting samples from our digitization project: rare photos, record labels, scrapbook pages, etc. Don't miss it--and much more to come!