Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was a living symbol of 20th-century American Culture. As a founding father of jazz he revolutionized the world of music and became one of the most influential artists and entertainers ever. In this rare archive recording from 1964 we experience the true Satchmo at his best with some of his greatest hits.
Personnel: Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet); Trummy Young (vocals, trombone, percussion); Jewel Brown (vocals); Joe Darensbourg (clarinet, percussion); Billy Kyle (piano); Danny Barcelona (drums).
Recording information: 1964.
Authors: Duke Ellington; Louis Armstrong.
Director: Dan R. Holmes.
Translator: Stewart Spencer.
Louis Armstrong continued to tour after a heart attack during his 1959 trip to Europe, though by 1964 his show had changed significantly. Velma Middleton had succumbed to a heart attack and had been replaced by Jewel Brown, while clarinetist Barney Bigard left the band, with Joe Darensbourg settling into his place. This 1964 telecast, evidently made in an Australian television studio, finds Armstrong relying to a greater degree on vocal features and not pushing himself on trumpet as much as he once did. That said, the show is no less entertaining, as the rapport between the musicians is obvious throughout the date, with plenty of features for individuals including "Perdido" (Billy Kyle), "Sweet Georgia Brown" (Darensbourg), and "How High the Moon" (Arvell Shaw). Armstrong and Trummy Young share the vocals in the amusing "Now You Has Jazz," while the leader is the primary vocalist throughout most of the performance. Brown's choice of material is a bit odd, as "Did You Hear About Jerry" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (hits for Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett, respectively) don't really fit in that well with the rest of the set. But the rousing closing number, "When the Saints Go Marching In," quickly rekindles the magic. The audio is excellent and though portions of the video are slightly grainy, this DVD is well worth acquiring as an example of Louis Armstrong during his final years. ~ Ken Dryden
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