Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 18 of King Oliver's 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets.
This 10-CD set is as good a compendium of the genius of Louis Armstrong as anyone could wish for. It’s all here: the early years with the King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson bands, the glorious period of the Hot Fives and Sevens, the big band recordings of the Thirties, the collaborations with contemporaries such as Ella Fitzgerald. Then there are the later recordings, when Satchmo’s celebrity empowered him to soar over many political and racial divides. There’s also a fascinating unreleased Hollywood Bowl concert from 1956, a CD of “out-takes” from recording sessions, and a revealing interview with Dan Morgenstern.
Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, several bonus tracks on nearly each disc (some previously unreleased) and new liner notes providing historical context to the original material, the series celebrates the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records, the prolific New York-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1950s and '60s.
Kid Ory was one of the great New Orleans pioneers, an early trombonist who virtually defined the "tailgate" style (using his horn to play rhythmic bass lines in the front line behind the trumpet and clarinet) and who was fortunate enough to last through the lean years so he could make a major comeback in the mid-'40s. Originally a banjoist, Ory soon switched to trombone and by 1911 was leading a popular band in New Orleans. Among his trumpeters during the next eight years were Mutt Carey, King Oliver and a young Louis Armstrong and his clarinetists included Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, and Jimmie Noone. In 1919, Ory moved to California and in 1922 (possibly 1921) recorded the first two titles by a Black New Orleans jazz band ("Ory's Creole Trombone" and "Society Blues") under the band title of Spike's Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra. In 1925 he moved to Chicago, played regularly with King Oliver, and recorded many classic sides with Oliver, Louis Armstrong (in his Hot Five and Seven), and Jelly Roll Morton, among others.
Hopefully, the reappearance of this revelatory 1956 record will force many critics and musicians to reconsider Brubeck's stature in the world of jazz piano. Recorded late at night in his Oakland, California, home, it was Brubeck's first full solo-piano recording and also his first all-original record, and it illustrates his marvelously elegant fusion of classical and cocktail conceptions. Brubeck understands blues and swing, but he uses these elements as tools for effect, not as default settings. Brubeck instead offers a fuller palette of emotions and ideas--playful, sober, stern, happy, pensive, cerebral. While "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke" have become standards, the album includes obscure gems such as the minisuite "Two-Part Contention," with its many tempo, mood, and stylistic turns, and the discreetly swinging "Walkin' Line," although he lapses into melodrama with "Weep No More." Still, on "The Duke" (originally titled "The Duke Meets Darius Milhaud"), it's fascinating to hear how easily and smoothly he fits all 12 scale notes into his opening bass figure. As he himself points out in the brilliant original notes , the marriage of European music and American music dates back to New Orleans jazzmen such as King Oliver. And to dismiss any notions of intellectualism in jazz would be a great insult to everyone from Oliver to Charlie Parker to John Lewis to Bill Evans to Sun Ra. This is the jazz of Brubeck's own experience, and while it may sound too poised and polished for some tastes, it is honestly his and must be viewed as such.Marc Greilsamer, Amazon.com
Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing, beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging personality, which were on display in a series of vocal recordings and film roles.