The names of the greatest producers in jazz history still resonate today. The likes of Orrin Keepnews, Creed Taylor and Norman Granz (to name a mere three) all pioneered production and promotion styles that made their releases both identifable and enduring. Next week will see the release on Hip-o Select of a major project by that third-named gentleman. Granz (1918-2001) founded five record labels in his lifetime, but none more renowned than Verve. That label was created by Granz in 1956, and the very same year, he recorded the first-ever jazz concert at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, a venue which opened in 1922 and still hosts prestigious concerts today. (The famous bandshell didn't come along until 1929, however!) Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl brought together some of the biggest names of the genre: Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Roy Eldridge, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Buddy Rich. The concert was released as a deluxe 2-LP set, but has never been released on CD. Hip-o Select's Verve Select imprint rectifies this with a new CD reissue, but the pot has been sweetened by the addition of 11 previously unreleased tracks performed by Louis Armstrong! (These tracks are almost simultaneously appearing as one complete disc on Universal U.K.'s ambitious 10-CD box set Satchmo: Louis Armstrong, The Ambassador of Jazz. Read about that exciting project here!)
The American debut of the Armstrong set is just one reason that this new package is an essential one. Satchmo had been heard on the original vinyl edition in two duets with Ella Fitzgerald ("You Won't Be Satisfied" and "Undecided") but the trumpeter’s full set could not be included on the original LP. Eleven previously unreleased tracks have been reinstated, bringing the total number of Armstrong performances to fourteen. That's not all, though. Verve Select's CD edition now has all of the songs performed that summer evening of August 15, 1956, and the set list has been restored to its original running order. (The original LPs altered the sequencing due to the era's time constraints for vinyl albums.)
Armstrong and his All Star Orchestra took their place beside a truly legendary group of musicians, and Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl offers six solo tracks from Fitzgerald, including takes on Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and "Just One of Those Things" plus Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Little Girl Blue" and the then-current showtune introduced by Sammy Davis, Jr. in Mr. Wonderful, "Too Close For Comfort." Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Roy Eldridge were backed by Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown on a once-in-a-lifetime jam session incorporating Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin's "I Can't Get Started" and Count Basie's signature "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Piano jazz is well represented by Art Tatum's four songs, among them the Gershwins' "Someone To Watch Over Me" and Porter's "Begin the Beguine," and the Oscar Peterson’s Trio’s two-song set highlighted by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed's "How About You?" ("I like New York in June/How about you? I like a Gershwin tune/How about you?") The concert marked one of Tatum's last appearances. The entire ensemble joins in for (what else?) "When The Saints Go Marching In," the jubilant, rousing finale.
Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl is housed in a digipak reproducing the original artwork plus new photos, detailed annotations and an essay by historian Bob Porter. This 5,000-copy limited edition is available for pre-order now at Hip-o Select for $35.98 and will ship on July 29. It will be available from other retailers beginning August 16. After the jump, you'll find the complete annotated track listing plus pre-order link at Amazon.
Various Artists, Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl: Expanded Edition (Verve/Hip-o Select B0015738-02, 2011)
- Introduction by Norman Granz
- Honeysuckle Rose - jam session featuring Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Roy Eldridge, Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio
- The Ballad Medley: I Can't Get Started/If I Had You/I've Got the World on a String - jam session featuring Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Roy Eldridge, Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio
- Jumpin' at the Woodside - jam session featuring Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Roy Eldridge, Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio
- Introduction to Art Tatum
- Someone to Watch Over Me - Art Tatum
- Begin the Beguine - Art Tatum
- Willow Weep for Me - Art Tatum
- Humoresque - Art Tatum
- Introduction to Ella's Band
- Love for Sale - Ella Fitzgerald
- Just One of Those Things - Ella Fitzgerald
- Little Girl Blue - Ella Fitzgerald
- Too Close for Comfort - Ella Fitzgerald
- I Can't Give You Anything But Love - Ella Fitzgerald
- 9:20 Special - Oscar Peterson Trio
- How About You - Oscar Peterson Trio
- When It’s Sleepy Time Down South - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Back Home in Indiana - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- The Gypsy - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Ole Miss Blues - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- The Bucket’s Got a Hole in It - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Perdido - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- You Made Me Love You - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Mack the Knife - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Stompin’ at the Savoy - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- You Can Depend on Me - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- Mop Mop - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
- You Won’t Be Satisfied - Ella & Louis
- Undecided - Ella & Louis
- When the Saints Go Marching In - Full Ensemble
All tracks originally released in different order as Verve MGV-8231-2, 1956 except Disc 2, Tracks 3-13, which are previously unreleased.
These are all nice reissues, but I do resent the pricing. Before the Hip-O and Rhino Hand-made concepts came along, you could have got this 2CD for less than half the price.
It is great, however, that the Armstrong bonus material is being offered here.