During the autumn of 1924, Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra continued to make hot little records for many different labels. The front line begins to look impressive, with trombonist Big Charlie Green sitting not far from Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman. "Forsaken Blues" has an ooh-wacka-ooh brass line and a big nasty bass sax solo by Hawkins after someone -- probably Redman -- makes a noise like an enraged ferret. On the catchy "Cold Mamas (Burn Me Up)," the bass sax is accompanied by a goofus, or melodica, played by the ever-resourceful Redman. Conventional jazz history states that the addition of Louis Armstrong to the Henderson orchestra in September of 1924 initiated a change in this organization's overall chemistry, which would soon become evident. This particular CD provides audible evidence. The diminutive trumpeter from New Orleans-cum-Chicago really did transform Henderson's band beginning with his participation in the session of October 7, 1924. First heard on "Manda," composed by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, Armstrong stands out as King Oliver's right-hand man. "Go 'Long, Mule" has a bizarre novelty solo by Redman using only the mouthpiece of his horn to generate a sort of Punch & Judy cartoon voice. Four tunes recorded for Pathe Actuelle on October 13, 1924, are notable for the insistent burping sound of Ralph Escudero's tuba. The exciting "Shanghai Shuffle" comes across in two distinctive interpretations, with an oboe solo by Redman on the first version. "Copenhagen" is real jazz with a hot solo from Armstrong, strong trombone breaks from Charlie Green, and a Redman arrangement to make it cook properly. The first of three versions of "Naughty Man" has a fine solo by Green, while on the second he seems to be getting his licks in quickly, and by version number three he muscles in for two solo breaks. But the real highlight here is definitely Armstrong. Everything he blows is remarkably fine, and it's easy to see why he quickly went from being an object of ridicule to the most imitated musician in all of jazz. The man had a lot of soul, and his solos -- along with Redman's arrangements -- quickly transformed Henderson's records from run-of-the-mill dance music into real jazz. The crowning glory on this CD is "Everybody Loves My Baby," both an instrumental take and Armstrong's very first recorded vocal, consisting of merrily shouted outbursts during the coda. Listening to all of these sides in sequence, it is obvious what a difference Louis Armstrong made in this band, and the chronology spells it out unmistakably.
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