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The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (#257)Mosaic Singles
The live performances from 1947 to 1958 have been collected at last, let it be known that anyone who overlooks the music Louis Armstrong made on those concert stages does so at great expense to his or her personal joy.
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
9 CDs - $149.00
So Much Joy!
The long-accepted rule of jazz goes this way: as soon as you are embraced by society at large, it's time for the jazz world to write you off. The rule is even stricter if your popular success comes from entertainment outside of jazz, such as popular music, TV appearances, or movie stardom.
Which explains in large measure why critics were quick to turn away from Louis Armstrong in the late 1940s, when he began fronting the group known as Louis Armstrong and The All Stars. Long before that, he had introduced innovations we now accept as "how you play jazz." That wasn't enough? And he kept playing it, in a different city and a different continent, as many as 300 nights a year. THAT wasn't enough?
Now that his live performances from 1947 to 1958 have been collected at last, let it be known that anyone who overlooks the music Louis Armstrong made on those concert stages does so at great expense to his or her personal joy.
A First-Ever Compilation
Mosaic's new set, The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, is the first to span this range of Louis' career. It is rich with new discoveries and legendary omissions, on nine CDs. For the unreleased material alone, this one is a real collector's item.
We've restored missing solos and removed fake applause. We tracked down the earliest, most authoritative sources for the music and cleaned-up everything to the best of our ability using state-of-the-art techniques. And we corrected a great deal of misinformation regarding discographical details.
Throughout, you will be amazed at his proficiency on the horn, the brilliance of his sound, the beguiling sensuality of his vocals, and how great he was at being the standard-bearer for his own music, as well as an interpreter of other people's songs. Louis Armstrong was doing the work of a working musician; a man who pulled out all the stops no matter where he was, how bad his lip felt, whether or not the mob was chasing him, or how many times audiences called for the same favorites. He loved what he was doing… he remembered abject poverty… he was grateful to be working… and he gave music everything he had. In return, the world presented him with honors and awards until the world ran out.
Included in the box is the famous Town Hall concert from May 17, 1947 that set the style for the small group music he'd make from that point on. That date came from the French RCA tapes that Sony was able to locate for us.
Newly-Found, from Carnegie Hall
Following that is a Carnegie Hall date from November 1947. For a long time the masters were mislabeled and thought to be lost, and no one has heard a note of it on a commercial release. We've got everything deemed releasable that isn't duplicated by other recordings in the collection. And it all sounds wonderful.
Skip ahead about eight years to a concert from the Netherlands. Unfortunately the entire concert hasn't survived, but George Avakian, who produced the date as part of the "Ambassador Satch" sessions, saved what he thought should come out commercially. Six of the tracks have been on other collections, but we've got everything George rescued.
Two months later, the ambassador was in Milan. Wanting to capture a different feel, Avakian rented a movie theater, invited a few jazz lovers, and turned on the microphones. Later feeling there weren't enough people in the house to make for an enthusiastic response, he added applause. We pulled it out, but kept the wild screams of the Italian fans. And with three of the four original tapes in our possession, we have lots of music that never made it to release. We think it stands up spectacularly without the fake support.
More, More, More
The set also includes a date from Los Angeles in January 1956 that was initially issued as though it was live, but wasn't. It was a studio date where the group worked out on a handful of popular tunes. Mosaic has everything recorded that day, and with many unedited takes, it's another treasure that reveals how songs developed and refined.
The Great Chicago Concert from June 1956 is well known, but has been out of print a long time. You can enjoy it here again, with some delightful additions: "Indiana" featured bass player Dale Jones, but was released with the bass solo edited out! Here, it's restored. And Louis' solo on "Black and Blue" is restored to its full length.
There's also a concert from Newport in 1956, with four previously unissued performances. A productive day at Lewisohn Stadium found Avakian recording a rehearsal session with the All Stars in the afternoon and during the evening concert, three attempts at "St. Louis Blues" with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. (The recording equipment caught everything, including a camera breaking down, Bernstein chatting up the audience, Louis playing encores to keep the fans happy. It's quite a document.) And then there's Newport 1958, with very little overlap from 1956. Only three tracks have ever been heard from this great date that included a reunion with Jack Teagarden and Bobby Hackett. We've got the whole set.
There are also one-offs: Edward R. Murrow interviewing Louis in Paris; a performance, previously unissued, of Louis in London; and two tracks from a 1956 date in Ghana that have not been previously released. Throughout, we have corrected details about the time and place of certain recordings where the original recording companies played fast and loose with the details, and restored recordings to their original condition when we discovered the official releases might have been cobbled together from as many as five different sources.
Oh, and by the way, the All Stars? George Wettling, Bob Haggart, Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Peanuts Hucko, Sid Catlett, Dick Cary, Barney Bigard, Arvell Shaw, Trummy Young, Edmond Hall, Billy Kyle, and others.
One of the criticisms leveled at Armstrong over the years is that after creating exceptional improvisations on iconic tunes, he locked them in and performed them similarly night after night. What is apparent from this set is how varied his repertoire was, how much life he put into every performance, and how thrilled audiences were in his presence. Besides - do you really want to hear "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" without his trademark "Good evening, everybody" at the end?
Our heavily-researched brochure includes an exhaustive essay by Ricky Riccardi, archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and one of the leading experts on Armstrong worldwide. We've written a new discography that finally eliminates confusion and distortion regarding Louis' recorded output. And there are many vintage photographs from Louis' exceptional career.
We highly recommend this one-of-a-kind set and remind jazz listeners everywhere that when our Mosaic sets sell out, they are gone for good.
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