Six Minutes With Satch: S'posin' / To Be in Love

So far, Tommy Rockwell's strategy has been pretty easy to detect: one release aimed at "race" and "pop" markets with Armstrong crooning a pair of love songs, then two instrumental "race" releases, one featuring a couple of swingers, the other some deep explorations of the blues. All three were inarguably hall-of-fame, time capsule releases.

But when Armstrong finally moved to New York in May 1929, Rockwell's next move was to utilize him as a sideman, a role Armstrong was familiar with, especially on many OKeh dates of the mid-20s. OKeh was really pushing white crooner Seger Ellis as the star of its pop series, but deep down, one has to wonder if Rockwell knew that Armstrong would soon render the likes of Ellis obsolete. Perhaps to get white America accustomed to the sounds of Armstrong, Rockwell selected him to take part in Ellis's June 4 session with an otherwise all-white band featuring the likes of the Dorsey Brothers.

On "S'posin'" and "To Be in Love," Armstrong takes short, explosive solos, definitely inspired by the press rolls of drummer Stan King. Suffice to say they're the most memorable aspects of the record, which is not without period charm. This isn't the only time we'll hear from Ellis and it's not the only time we'll hear Armstrong in the role of a sideman. In fact, come back tomorrow for more!

Seger Ellis (voc), Louis Armstrong (tp), Tommy Dorsey (tb), Jimmy Dorsey (cl), Harry Hoffman (vln), Justin Ring (p), Stan King (d).
OKeh recording session - New York City, NY
June 4, 1929

And for those who don't use Spotify, here's some YouTube links (though I can't promise that these will work outside of the United States):


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