Louis Armstrong

King of Jazz [DVD]

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Jordi Vall Escru's 50-minute tribute documentary to Louis Armstrong, King of Jazz, combines archival footage as well as unique edits to provide a different perspective on the man Escru calls "the most important jazz musician of all time." Unlike the Wonderful World DVD which features biographers and musicians discussing Satchmo's life, this is an in-depth look at Louis Armstrong featuring selections of his music. Narrator Sterling Wilson sounds like the Velvet Underground's John Cale while that legendary bassist narrated "The Gift," a no-nonsense, serious approach to the subject matter with a distinguished voice to deliver the information.

The presentation is unique and would fit well into libraries as well as classrooms as a superb introduction to the music of Louis Armstrong. Recording artist Bobby Hebb, author of the hit "Sunny," is a huge fan of Armstrong and said of this DVD: "It is a great historical document...there's some information here that is unbelievable. This is not just something to look at -- it is something to treasure. This is a wonderful gift to society." Jordi Vall Escru's passion for the subject matter is obvious. There are multiple cuts and edits, fade-ins and classy use of posters and other memorabilia to give this work an edge as it entertains while informing. As Hebb told AMG, this documentary should be nationally televised, if it hasn't aired prior to the release of this DVD. "I love it," the singer said, "It's a mental door opener. I wasn't aware of all the things going on on those riverboats -- but the music I was around. On the notes that he hit very high -- that's probably where Cat Anderson got his style from. Cat Anderson was the guy who hit those high notes in the Duke Ellington orchestra." King of Jazz includes individual track selection, a discography, filmography, weblinks and other bonus material. A real sleeper and worth seeking out.