Six Minutes With Satch: Mahogany Hall Stomp / Beau Koo Jack

Yesterday's coupling of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "No One Else But You" provided two sterling examples of Armstrong's groundbreaking vocal style. Interestingly, it doesn't seem like that's what Rockwell was going for as the next four singles he issued featuring Armstrong did not feature as a much as a spoken syllable from his star client.

Surely, few, if any jazz fans complained, especially with today's offering and tomorrow's as well (the rest of the week, well, you'll see). After "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," Louis and the Luis Russell band let their hair down and swung out on Spencer Williams's "Mahogany Hall Stomp," Armstrong's solo quickly becoming one of his most iconic--and oft-imitated--offerings.

Needing a suitable flip side, Rockwell again dug through the December 1928 Chicago sessions and came up with Alex Hill's "Beau Koo Jack." A dazzling record in every way, it still sounds fresh and exciting today (I once played it for my class in 2015 and they broke out in spontaneous applause upon its conclusion).

Unlike yesterday's recordings, Tommy Rockwell didn't perform his experiment of releasing this single on both the race and pop side, keeping it strictly a "race record." So again, put yourself in the mindset of 1929 and imagine picking up this brand new OKeh disc--hot!

Louis Armstrong (tp, voc), J.C. Higginbotham (tb), Albert Nicholas (cl), Charlie Holmes (as), Teddy Hill (ts), Luis Russell (p), Eddie Condon (bj), Lonnie Johnson (g), Pops Foster (b), Paul Barbarin (d).
OKeh recording session - New York City, NY March 5, 1929

Louis Armstrong (tp, voc), Fred Robinson (tb), Don Redman (as), Jimmy Strong (cl), Earl Hines (p), Dave Wilborn (bj), Zutty Singleton (d).
OKeh recording session - Chicago, IL December 5, 1928

And for those who don't use Spotify, YouTube links:


Popular Posts