Louis Armstrong

Jazz Is Back in Grand Rapids

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This previously unreleased concert by Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars is a historical gem. Recorded on March 26, 1956, at the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, MI, it affords jazz fans a chance to hear what the barnstorming Armstrong's shows were like in heartland America, since the whole concert is presented here, with decent sound and only minimally intrusive crowd noise. Armstrong's affable presence is pervasive, but not always center stage, as each member of the All-Stars gets his turn in the course of the revue. Bass player Arvell Shaw, in particular, shines on "How High the Moon," and his playing on "Mack the Knife" is another highlight. The Brecht song is a perfect vehicle for Armstrong's singing style and his penchant for treating words like they were a string of notes in one of his amazing horn solos. Longtime Armstrong duet partner Velma Middleton gets a solo turn on the hard-shouted "Blues à la Hey Bob-A-Rebob" and joins Armstrong for two semi-comedic duets on "That's My Desire" and "Kokomo." While this disc can hardly be deemed essential, it is still a joy to listen to, and when viewed as a historical document of Louis Armstrong and his band at a very particular place and time, well, it is darn near priceless.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:54
2 4:18
3 4:34
4 4:15
5 4:33
6 4:34
7 3:26
8 2:55
9 4:50
10 3:58
11 2:18
14 3:58
15 5:15
blue highlight denotes track pick