Archive for the ‘Louis Armstrong’ Category
The legendary composer-arranger-pianist-bandleader Duke Ellington is In Grand Company on a new collection of the same name from Starbucks Entertainment, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. Much has been written of Ellington’s fertile creative partnership with “Take the ‘A’ Train” composer Billy Strayhorn, and indeed, Strayhorn is represented on this disc. But he’s just one of the many, varied artists represented on this collection’s fifteen tracks. Spanning four decades of recording on many labels, In Grand Company explores the Duke as collaborator, with luminaries from the worlds of jazz (John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald), big band (Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie), pop (Rosemary Clooney) and gospel (Mahalia Jackson).
The earliest track on In Grand Company dates all the way back to 1940, when Ellington teamed with bassist Jimmie Blanton for “Pitter Panther Patter” (heard here in Take 2). The collection’s most recent performance, 1972’s “Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear from Me” was recorded by the then-73-year old Ellington and the much younger Ray Brown, 45. Appropriately, it came from the album This One’s for Blanton, on which Ellington celebrated the life of his one-time bassist who died in 1942 at the age of 23. In between, the compilation offers a selection of Ellington’s most definitive collaborative performances. He proved himself sympathetic to vocalists when he teamed with Rosemary Clooney on the 1956 album Blue Rose, from which “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” is excerpted. Ella Fitzgerald recorded an entire album of Duke’s standards in 1957 as part of her groundbreaking Songbook series; “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues” is the selection included here. Mahalia Jackson is featured on a segment of Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige suite, written in 1943 and recorded, in revised form, in 1958. (Too bad a song from Ellington’s pairing with his Reprise Records chief and labelmate, Frank Sinatra, couldn’t be included.)
There’s much more on Ellington after the jump, including the full track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Louis Armstrong, “The OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933″
Duke Ellington famously stated, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” but without Louis Armstrong, Duke would assuredly have had to pose some other question. Bing Crosby, the man owed a debut by every popular singer of the past eighty or so years, described Armstrong as “the beginning and end of music in America” while fellow trumpeter Miles Davis acknowledged that “you can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t played.” Yet Armstrong is arguably most remembered today by the general public for his latter-day vocals like “What a Wonderful World” and the song that unseated The Beatles from the top of the charts, “Hello, Dolly!,” or for his broad comic persona that detractors felt ignored the strides of the civil rights movement. What made Louis Armstrong so venerated, then? If you don’t know already, you’ll find many of the answers on The OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933 (88697 94565 2).
This new 10-CD box set is a comprehensive look at some of Satchmo’s earliest recordings, though not the earliest: extant recording date back even further, to 1923. But these sides are among the most influential ever – not just in jazz, but in all of popular music. This period has been addressed before on authorized releases from Legacy. 1994’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man covered the decade-plus period of 1923-1934 on four discs. Another 4-CD set, 2000’s The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings included not just the core tracks from Armstrong’s all-star studio groups but also out-of-contract performances for the Vocalion label and an alternate take, all recorded between 1925 and 1929. Out of necessity, there is some overlap with those sets. The first eight discs here were previously released by Legacy between 1988 and 1993 as the now out-of-print Armstrong Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, while Discs 9 and 10 replicate the first two discs of the (also out-of-print) 1997 Complete RCA Victor Recordings. For those who don’t own those releases, however, here’s a handy and affordable way to acquire this essential material.
The so-called “Hot Fives and Hot Sevens” on the first three discs have been called “the Rosetta Stone of jazz,” and these are the songs on which Armstrong built his reputation: breaking new improvisatory ground with each solo (on both cornet and trumpet), finding his voice, developing the phrasing that would influence generations, and in the process virtually inventing what we think of as swing. Armstrong’s singular gift of phrasing extended to both instrumental playing and singing; his was one voice, however it was deployed. Original compositions by the band members dominate these Chicago-recorded tracks. The first Hot Fives group consisted of Armstrong, Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Lil Armstrong (piano/vocal) and Johnny St. Cyr (banjo). John Thomas replaced Ory on trombone, and Pete Briggs joined on tuba and Baby Dodds on drums to create the Hot Sevens. Naturally, these instruments (and instrumentalists) lent those sessions a very different feel. The final recordings on Disc Three are from altered line-ups: Lonnie Johnson (guitar) joins Louis, Lil, Ory, Dodds and St. Cyr in one group, while another includes Louis, Fred Robinson (trombone), Jimmy Strong (clarinet/tenor saxophone), Mancy Carr (banjo), Zutty Singleton (drums) and the remarkable Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano. Most amazingly, it should be remembered that the Hot Fives and Sevens groups were studio bands, not well-rehearsed groups that honed its repertoire on the road. Many of these classic songs were improvised in the studio, on the spot. As Cole Porter once wrote for Louis to sing, “Now you has jazz!”
There’s more after the jump!
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic music and the reissues they may someday see. With 50 years of on-screen action and a new film in theaters, the name is Bond…James Bond, and the music is plentiful!
What else is left to say about Ian Fleming’s blunt, British secret agent James Bond? Our 007, licensed to kill, is an international icon of print and, since Sean Connery suavely stepped into Bond’s tuxedo in 1962′s Dr. No, the big screen. Today, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall – the third to star Daniel Craig as a rougher-hewn 007 and, by nearly all accounts, one of the greatest films in the series – opens in American theaters, guaranteeing the legacy that film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli created a half-century ago remains as shaken (not stirred) as ever.
Bond soundtrack fans have had much to enjoy in that time period. From Monty Norman and His Orchestra’s brassy, immortal main theme (punctuated by session guitarist Vic Flick’s staccato electric guitar licks), to lush scores by John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, David Arnold and Thomas Newman, to name a few, to the 23 title themes of varying quality but with boundless cultural currency, music is as vital a part of the Bond experience as martinis, girls, cars and guns. And fans have been lucky: in the 1990s, Rykodisc acquired the rights to much of the Bond soundtrack catalogue (in most cases, controlled by Capitol/EMI). In the 2000s, Capitol itself expanded and/or remastered many of those albums anew. And compilations, from 1992′s rarity-packed double-disc The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Collection to this year’s Bond…James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks, have been plentiful as well.
But short of another, even more comprehensive pass at expanding the soundtrack albums to completion (one that seems increasingly like a pipe dream, thanks to the climate of the industry and the varying physical and financial statuses of the scores themselves), one could certainly find worth in a multi-disc box set that would provide the definitive dossier on Bond music. With that in mind, Second Disc HQ’s latest mission file is just that – and you can expect us to talk after the jump!
While you see a chance, take one on this new edition of Winwood’s 1980 album, expanded with a handful of bonus tracks and a lengthy audio documentary.
Louis Armstrong & The All-Stars, Satchmo at Symphony Hall 65th Anniversary: The Complete Performances(U.S.) (Hip-O Select/Verve)
A classic 1947 performance first released in 1951 is fully expanded to include both complete performances from that lauded night, with new packaging and lavish liner notes.
Rebbie Jackson, Centipede: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) / Jermaine Jackson, Precious Moments: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.)/ Surface, 2nd Wave: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) / Kashif, Send Me Your Love: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) / Charles Earland, Earland’s Jam: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) (Funkytowngrooves)
The newest FTG slate includes two from two of Michael Jackson’s siblings (the title track to Rebbie’s Centipede was written and produced by MJ) and an album by Kashif, best known as one of Whitney Houston’s best producers.
Dio’s sophomore LP, in the high quality that a gold disc affords.
Donald Fagen, Cheap Xmas: Donald Fagen Complete (U.S.) (Reprise)
This digital-only compilation includes all three albums in Fagen’s Nightfly trilogy (as well as the bonus material included on a 2007 box set) as well as his new solo album, Sunken Condos, also out today.
Before the beards and the fluffy guitars, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons played guitar for this Texas psych-blues band. A new disc from RockBeat features their entire commercial output.
When Decca Records first released Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars’ 1947 concert recorded at Boston’s Symphony Hall in the summer of 1951, the album became an instant best-seller. Armstrong was a regular recording and touring presence at that time, but concert recordings were gaining popularity in the LP format. Home listeners were anxious to bring the beloved entertainer and his troupe into their homes and onto their hi-fis. Satchmo at Symphony Hall was a deluxe product by the era’s standards, a double-album set containing the great majority of the music played by the All-Stars on November 30, 1947. However, there were edits necessitated by the constraints of LP length. Four complete performances were absent. Some internal solos were also cut, as well as the opening and closing themes, and the on-stage announcements. Now, 65 years later, fans and collectors will finally be able to hear the complete performances of Armstrong and his band on October 16 when Hip-o/Verve Select releases Satchmo At Symphony Hall / 65th Anniversary: The Complete Performances.
The Symphony Hall concert has been a mainstay of Armstrong’s discography since its initial release. It finally arrived on CD in 1996, but reissue producer Orrin Keepnews truncated it to one CD, eliminating three tracks altogether (“I Cried for You,” “That’s My Desire” and “How High the Moon”) and re-sequencing the remaining tracks. That edition is currently out of print, paving the way for this reconstruction of the complete, original concert (two sets) in one deluxe, 2-CD edition. Satchmo was joined by vocalist/trombonist Jack Teagarden, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Dick Cary, bassist Arvell Shaw, drummer “Big” Sid Catlett and singer Velma Middleton in his rollicking musical revue.
Hit the jump for more details, plus the track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »
Ace Records is cheering “Gabba gabba hey!” with the recent release of The Ramones Heard Them Here First, an overview charting the influences behind New York’s seminal punk pioneers. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy didn’t exactly try to hide their inspirations when they included a cover of Chris Montez’ 1962 hit “Let’s Dance” on their debut long-player Ramones in 1976 and over the years, they continued to tip the hat to rock and roll heroes from The Ronettes to The Beach Boys. The new compilation includes the original versions of twenty-four songs covered by Ramones between 1976 and 1995’s Adios Amigos, and as such, is a rollicking stew of pop, rock, bubblegum, and psychedelic sounds absorbed by the Forest Hills foursome (plus later members Marky, C.J. and Richie).
When Ramones arrived on Sire Records, it signaled a return to, and a celebration of, primal rock and roll after the excess of progressive rock and the glitz of disco. Primitive in its execution but colossal in its ambition, Ramones distilled the previous, pre-Woodstock era of pop-rock into fast and ferocious two-minute nuggets. Though their productions weren’t as polished or immaculate as those they worshipped, they captured the same energy that turned teenagers onto the rebellious art form two decades earlier. A classic example of a band whose influence far outweighed its sales, the group continued to recognize the past even as it flirted with subjects like Nazism, violence, drug use and prostitution. (No hippy-dippy peace-and-love for these boys!) And even though the surname “Ramone” was adopted by all members, they shared a common “less is more” sensibility that made them a true, if dysfunctional, band of brudders.
Many Ramones albums, including their first five, featured amped-up AM radio-style “cover” songs, many of which appear here. Compilation producer Mick Patrick has arranged the tracks chronologically in the order that the songs appeared on a Ramones set. So “Let’s Dance” is followed by The Rivieras’ “California Sun,” covered on 1977’s sophomore effort Leave Home, then by The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and The Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance,” both aired on Rocket to Russia. (“Do You Wanna Dance,” of course, was originally written and recorded by Bobby Freeman, but it’s likely that the immaculate, Brian Wilson-produced, Dennis Wilson-sung version was The Ramones’ go-to choice.) 1978’s Road to Ruin featured a take on Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins,” which is also reprised here in its hit version by The Searchers. But the band’s biggest success on 45 in the U.K. came from 1980’s controversial End of the Century, in which Phil Spector took the production reins. That hit single was a recording of Spector’s own “Baby, I Love You,” which he originally produced for The Ronettes, and the album itself also became the band’s highest-charting stateside. The immortal, Ronnie Spector-led track (arranged by the aforementioned Nitzsche) represents the band’s brief association with Phil Spector. Following End of the Century, a number of albums were recorded of entirely original Ramones compositions, among them Pleasant Dreams (1981), Too Tough to Die (1984), and Animal Boy (1986).
There’s lots more Ramones-mania after the jump, including an order link and complete track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »
Okay – or should that be OKeh? – in fairness, so are the thirties, forties, and fifties, thanks to four upcoming box sets spotlighting legendary jazz and blues stars. Legacy Recordings adds to its growing Complete Albums Collection library on October 30 with these new volumes:
- Louis Armstrong, The Complete OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933 (OKeh/Columbia/RCA/Legacy) (10 CDs);
- Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar (Columbia/ Legacy) (4 CDs);
- Duke Ellington, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958 (Columbia/ Legacy) (9 CDs); and
- Bessie Smith, The Complete Columbia Recordings (Columbia/ Legacy) (10 CDs).
These titles follow up the recent releases from The Brecker Brothers, Etta James and Sarah Vaughan (all due in stores Tuesday) and like those titles and the other Complete Albums sets, these include original albums or compilations packaged in replica mini-LP sleeves. In most cases, bonus tracks that have been appended to past Legacy reissues have been retained, and booklets have been prepared with new liner notes and full discographical information for each artist and title contained. Virtually all of the CDs in the Complete Album Collection jazz series have been newly remastered by multiple Grammy-winning engineer Mark Wilder.
The beloved Louis Armstrong was last year the subject of a massive 10-CD box set spotlighting his entire career, a set which drew considerable attention when Elvis Costello proclaimed it a superior purchase to a similarly-priced set of his own material. Well, Mr. Costello would likely approve of The Complete OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933, with its ten CDs of some of the earliest recordings by the man alternately known as Satchmo or Pops. This period yielded the famous Hot Fives and Hot Sevens recordings, among the most historically important and, indeed, entertaining, of Armstrong’s long career during which he influenced virtually every musician who’s ever picked up a horn. Any understanding of popular music begins with these famous sessions, featured on the first three discs of this new set. (A 2000 Legacy box set was previously dedicated to these recordings.)
CDs 1-7 of the new box replicate the contents of the first seven volumes of the now out-of-print Armstrong Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, released 1988 to 1993; the first three discs are dedicated to the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens as recorded between 1925 and 1928. CD 4 spotlights Pops’ recordings alongside pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines with a variety of groups in 1927-1928, while CDs 5 and 6 cover the seminal 1929-1930 period during which time Armstrong recorded in New York and Los Angeles. CDs 7 and 8 find Louis embracing the 1930s with open arms with sessions in Chicago, while the final two discs in the box pick up with his move to Victor in late 1932 with recordings made from Camden to Chicago! The ten-CD set ends with Louis (and wife Lil on piano!) backing country –and-western pioneer Jimmie Rodgers on his “Blue Yodel No. 9,” recorded in Los Angeles in July 1930.
Legacy notes that The Complete OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933 does not include the recordings on which Armstrong served as a sideman during these years for artists such as Maggie Jones and Lillie Delk Christian. Ricky Riccardi, author of the must-read What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years (and keeper of a fine Armstrong blog), provides the new liner notes for the box. Louis Armstrong returned to RCA Victor in 1946-1947 and Columbia in 1954-1956; perhaps those sessions will see release down the road!
After the jump, we’ll explore the sets from Charlie Christian, Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith. Plus: we have pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »
Carole King, The Legendary Demos (Rockingale/Hear Music)
Who wouldn’t want to hear early recordings of some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded? I know I would.
The late Monkee’s first post-band project released on CD and expanded with bonus tracks, as well as a CD/DVD of the band’s penultimate 1987 album with two bonus tracks and the group’s videography.
T. Rex, Electric Warrior: Deluxe Edition (Polydor)
The glam classic is greatly expanded overseas, with a bonus disc of unreleased demos and a DVD of rare performances. This is likely going to stay import-only, so get it while it’s hot.
Louis Armstrong, Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours (Smithsonian Folkways)
One of Satchmo’s last recordings ever, a short set with surprise bliss from his trumpet.
Cilla Black, Completely Cilla 1963-1973 (EMI)
The U.K. pop singer gets a swinging box set: five CDs of George Martin-produced tunes and a DVD of rare BBC television appearances.
ABBA, The Visitors: Deluxe Edition (Universal Music Catalogue)
The Swedish pop icons’ final album, reissued as a CD/DVD set, features plenty of extras, including an unreleased track heard in its entirety for the first time anywhere.
More than 40 years after his passing, one of the final recordings of jazz legend Louis Armstrong is coming to CD from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours presents Armstrong’s five-song set given before members of the National Press Club at a black-tie gala honoring the inauguration of club president Vernon Louviere, who, like Armstrong, was a native of Louisiana. The biggest surprise to the audience was Pops’ bringing his trusty horn out of semi-retirement, having spent the previous year in poor health and focusing far more on singing in concert.
After the set (“When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” ”Hello, Dolly,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “Boy from New Orleans” and “Mack the Knife”) on January 29, 1971, Armstrong performed for the public only twice more – once on The Dick Cavett Show in February, and for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson the month after. In July, he died of a heart attack, a month before his 70th birthday.
This premiere wide release of the show – pressed onto a 300-unit limited edition vinyl disc some years ago – will be available April 24 on CD and digital download from Smithsonian Folkways as well as all major digital retailers. The release will be commemorated at the National Press Club on April 27 featuring a news conference and panel discussion with as-yet-unannounced panelists.
Original post (11/29/2011): Man, Elvis Costello is a pretty awesome guy. He’s had a pretty good handle on his own already-solid back catalogue, giving it a good solid two run-throughs (unfortunately, two out of three, which still ain’t bad, as they say). His revival of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook Tour, to be chronicled in a new super-deluxe box set and CD/DVD package, was a welcome surprise that mixed some nostalgia with up-to-date live fun. And then there’s that above video, which doesn’t fail to put a smile on my face.
But not everyone smiles for Mr. Costello! Our dear readers were rightfully upset at the crazy-even-for-a-super-deluxe-box $200+ price point, which included CDs, DVDs, books, vinyl, posters and other usual trinkets. But who would listen, other than us? Well, it turns out Elvis himself was!
In a typically sardonic announcement on his website, he not only urged that fans hold off on buying the mega box (indicating, as had been reported, that its contents would be available separately in 2012), but suggested that fans instead spend their hard-earned money on Universal U.K.’s “vastly superior” Louis Armstrong box set.
While we’re happy that Elvis is cognizant of how much these deluxe boxes put on fans’ wallets, we hope he keeps the reissue reporting to a minimum. After all, I couldn’t write or play “Accidents Will Happen” competently. (I won’t dare speak for Joe, though!)
Read the full text of the statement after the jump!