New Mosaic Records Louis Armstrong Set Up For Pre-Order!
Due out April 10!
Read all about it in this terrific Lydia Liebman press release HERE.
Then head over to Mosaic Records's website and pre-order it HERE.
I don't know what to say next. Part of me is so elated and exhausted, I'm just tempted to stop here and go hibernate until the set shows up at my front door in April. But needless to say, this set was a very personal project and the three-year process of creating it was such a roller coaster that I always want to keep blabbing and blabbing until the world is sick of me talking about it.
For now, I'll aim for a middle ground. I haven't posted about it on this blog in some time and if you don't follow me on social media, this might be all breaking news so I'll start at the beginning. About a decade ago, I began the process of hounding Scott Wenzel of Mosaic Records to have him do a set devoted to live All Stars recordings originally done for Columbia and RCA Victor (now both owned by Sony). I eventually wore Scott down and in late 2012, we went to work.
By 2014, a 9-CD set, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings of Louis Armstrong and The All Stars was released to the world. Reviews were great and the reception was beyond my wildest expectations. Eventually, like all Mosaics, the set went out of print, but that just allowed Sony to dump the audio on all the streaming platforms. Once that happened, I posted THIS BLOG, sharing the links to the streaming version of the set, as well as my entire liner note essay.
Moments after the release, I began fantasizing about doing it all over again. The core of that first set were live recordings from 1955 and 1956 originally produced by my friend, the late George Avakian, and featured on the seminal albums Ambassador Satch, Satchmo the Great, Louis Armstrong and Eddie Condon At Newport and Chicago Concert. That was well and good--but what about Avakian's studio recordings from that mid-50s period?
As I've related numerous times (including this blog in October), the Armstrong music Avakian produced in that period changed my life 25 years ago and the two studio albums, Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy and Satch Plays Fats, represent the pinnacle of my music collection. When I first grew close with George and David Ostwald in 2008, they gave me quite a gift to help me write my first book: cassette copies of all the tapes they had transferred when making Sony's reissues of those two albums in 1997 and 2000 respectively. I could not believe what I was hearing and if you read that book (about to celebrate its 10-year anniversary!), I put together almost an entire chapter describing the scene that took place in the studio during the making of those records.
But what good was it sitting in my collection--the world needed to hear this material! So that was my pitch to Scott Wenzel for a follow-up: let's blow up the studio recordings from that same period, centering on Handy, Fats and the "Mack the Knife" session. Scott said, "Why stop there?" and suggested adding the big band and early small group material recorded for RCA Victor in 1946-1947. I countered with a "Why stop there?" of my own and suggested the 1961 Dave Brubeck-led album The Real Ambassadors, plus the 1966 "Cabaret" single session as the final punctuation mark.
With that, we had a concept. In January 2018--three years ago this week--we had our first meeting of the minds as Scott, myself and David Ostwald met at our mutual friend Rich Noorigian's home for the first planning session. The four of us are credited as co-producers of the set and believe me, it was a team effort. I played my copies of the old cassettes George and David copied for me 10 years earlier and we started making some early decisions about alternate takes.
I'll admit, I wrote and deleted several paragraphs because at this point, I don't think anyone besides us cares about the nuts and bolts but here's a quick timeline:
- August 2018 - Scott and I announce the set at at a 2018 Satchmo Summerfest tribute to George Avakian.
- Winter 2018 - Sony rejects the set. Uhhhhhhh......
- February 2019 - After some back and forth, Sony approves the set!