Louis Armstrong

New Orleans: The Soundtrack

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In 1947, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday starred in New Orleans, a Republic motion picture directed by Arthur Lubin. Initially, music intended for use in the movie to be called New Orleans was recorded in New Orleans on the last day of August and the first day of September 1946 by a genuine New Orleans brass band led by trumpeter Kid Howard and including in its lineup trombonist Jim Robinson and clarinetist George Lewis. Unfortunately, that material was not utilized in the film and therefore does not appear here. The recordings actually used in the flick were made between September 11 and October 17, 1946. Vocals were by Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. The instrumentalists whose work is audible here include trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Mutt Carey, trombonists Kid Ory and Big Chief Russell Moore, clarinetist Barney Bigard, saxophonists Joe Garland, Johnny Sparrow and Lucky Thompson, pianists Charlie Beal and Meade "Lux" Lewis, bassists Red Callender and Arvell Shaw, and drummer Zutty Singleton. Some of the tracks are quite short and were used as filler, so that the tracks run anywhere from 30 seconds to nearly five minutes in duration. Assessments of Hollywood's 1947 feature film New Orleans vary according to taste. Most commentators agree that the plot and script are more or less insufferable, while the casting of Billie Holiday as a chamber maid, although perhaps historically accurate for the period, was a regrettable symptom of deeply ingrained mass bigotry and fits in most horribly with much of the treatment she received as a woman of color during her often difficult life. The music, however, is excellent and well worth investigating.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:11
2 2:52
3 2:11
4 0:47
5 2:22
6 0:49
7 0:49
8 3:35
9 4:43
10 0:30
11 1:54
12 4:37
13 3:13
14 1:05
15 1:22
16 1:34
17 2:05
18 2:09
19 2:33
20 3:29
21 2:57
22 3:43
23 2:21
24 1:45
25 2:52
26 3:00
27 3:08
28 2:56
blue highlight denotes track pick