Louis Armstrong

When It's Sleepy Time Down South [History]

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The sixth title in the German History label's 15-CD box set Louis Armstrong, When It's Sleepy Time Down South picks up the complete recordings of Louis Armstrong as a leader with his spring 1931 return to Chicago from an extended sojourn in Los Angeles. During the nine months covered by these tracks, Armstrong fronted a big band led by Zilner Randolph and made a series of recordings for OKeh/Columbia similar in style to those he had been making during the previous two years, since switching from his small band to a succession of big ones. Spending an unusually long time with the Randolph band, he seems especially comfortable and turns in many winning and amusing performances, including the hits "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You," "Stardust," "Chinatown, My Chinatown," "You Can Depend on Me," "All of Me," "Home," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," "Kickin' the Gong Around," and "I Got Rhythm." What sounds like considerable sound processing has resulted in a hiss- and crackle-free sound that misses the highs as a result. Although this material is in the public domain in Europe, it is claimed by Sony Music in the U.S.; nevertheless, the box set is readily available at a modest price domestically through mail order. It's too bad that the series' arbitrary cutoff at 20 tracks per disc means that the last four performances from this phase of Armstrong's career (after which he disbanded the backup group and switched record labels) have to be shunted over to the next album, That's My Home, instead of being included here and making this a complete collection of Armstrong in Chicago with the Randolph band, 1931-1932. (Most of this material is on Columbia/Legacy's superior album You're Driving Me Crazy, but this one is less expensive.)

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 3:10
3 3:26
4 3:15
5 3:14
6 3:16
7 3:08
8 3:11
9 3:06
10 3:19
11 3:41
12 3:32
13 3:21
14 3:22
15 3:35
16 3:08
17 3:04
18 3:15
19 3:07
20 3:00
blue highlight denotes track pick