Louis Armstrong

1946-1947

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In September of 1946 Louis Armstrong was in Los Angeles, making a series of recordings for the Swing label, a French enterprise notable for its devotion to both traditional jazz and progressive swing. Calling his group the Hot Seven as if to invoke his phenomenal band from 20 years earlier and now flanked by trombonist Vic Dickenson and clarinetist Barney Bigard, Armstrong sang the blues beautifully and served up a spicy, caramelized rendition of "Sugar," Maceo Pinkard's amorous hit from the 1920s. Five sides cut for Victor on October 17, 1946, clearly illustrate what a transitional time this was for Armstrong. First he knocked off a pair of tunes backed by a 17-piece big band that included in its ranks bassist Arvell Shaw and trombonist "Big Chief" Russell Moore as well as tenor saxophonists Joe Garland and Johnny Sparrow. Then on the same day three additional recordings were made by Louis Armstrong's Dixieland Seven, a hot little outfit including Bigard, Kid Ory, Red Callender, and Minor "Ram" Hall. Their update of the old "Mahogany Hall Stomp" is a pure delight, with Ory growling like a camel through his trombone. On February 8, 1947, Armstrong was back in New York doing up V-Discs, first with Edmond Hall's Cafe Society Band and then in front of a 16-piece ensemble similar to the orchestra he had used during the previous autumn, with Lucky Thompson added to the reed section. A projected six-and-a-half-minute rendition of "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" turns out to be two versions of this song performed first by Louis Armstrong and then by Billie Holiday. Two separate live performances were edited together for their initial release but do not constitute a duet. This might come as a bit of a disappointment to anyone expecting a preview of the famous Armstrong/Holiday pairing of 1949, "My Sweet Hunk o' Trash." Five punchy big-band tunes from March of 1947 feature Armstrong as endearing pop vocalist who blows his horn nicely between raucous blasts from the brass section. This portion of the Armstrong chronology ends with two more V-Disc recordings. A feisty version of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" is followed by "Reminiscin' with Louis," an interview conducted by Art Ford with lots of laughter and enthusiastic responses from the live audience. The only music heard on this final track is a brief chorus of "High Society" at the outset.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2 3:23
3 2:34
4 3:01
5 2:49
6 2:54
7 2:58
8 3:05
9 2:54
10
feat: Edmond Hall
4:23
11 5:03
12 2:54
13 6:30
14 2:33
15 2:56
16 3:19
17 2:36
18 2:41
19 3:17
20
feat: Art Ford
4:33
blue highlight denotes track pick