Louis Armstrong - Chapel Hill, NC (05/04/54)|Bootleg Nation

A great show for jazz snobs and noobs alike.
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Louis Armstrong - Chapel Hill, NC (05/04/54)

I used to think I was a jazz-man. A great lover of the genre. Then I met the snobs. One time I went over to a friend's house and hung out. We ate some grub, listened to some tunes and talked about a wide range of subjects. Eventually we talked about music and a friend of the friend asked me if I liked jazz and then when I answered yes, he asked me to name some artists. I rattled off a list of names including Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald. With typical jazz snob disdain he said something like "oh, you like vocal jazz." Its true, the names I named and the people I liked at that time were all singers, but I'd never thought of them that way. I'd never bothered to pigeonhole them into such a specific category. It was all just jazz to me, and I liked it.

This guy then listed a bunch of more obscure names of folks who didn't sing, but just played as if that was true jazz. I didn't know any of them, at least not enough to say anything intelligent about them. I took off not long after that, but the feeling - that I was somehow less of a person because I didn't know every person who has ever blown a horn - stuck with me. Stuff like that has happened enough times now in my life that I no longer say I'm a fan of jazz. I don't know enough to sound hip so I feign disinterest and then quietly listen to the genre on my own terms.

Louis Armstrong is an interesting example in terms of jazz snobbery. He started out as just a player - and writer and inventor and genius. His early stuff is snob-fodder, but then he found his voice and a global fan base and started singing pop hits like "Hello Dolly" and "What a Wonderful World" and that's where the snobs check out. But enough of that, that's enough hating all around. Armstrong is a world famous jazz player and rightfully so. He was an incredibly inventive player, had a uniquely distinctive voice and brought more ears to the genre than probably anyone else.

This is a killer show.

It comes fairly late in his career and he was already enormously popular but its also brilliantly played and often hilarious. Armstrong is obviously having a ton of fun playing, talking and cutting up. During the close of the first set he does a wonderful duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Thelma Middleton that's full of inside jokes, wild innuendo and even a little raunch. To hear Louis Armstrong say stuff like "Take your shoes off Lucy/Let's get juicy" is both startlingly humorous and rather shocking.

He does a nice mix of classics like "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," "Blueberry Hill," and "When the Saints Go Marching In" along with songs I've never heard before like"Shadrack, Meshack, Abendigo," and "Margie" (which come to think of it may also be classics but are simply unknown by me). There's also a nice mix of straight instrumentals where Louis and company let it swing and songs where he puts down the trumpet and lets out that famous voice of his.

This show swings righteouesly whatever they play- whether I know it or not, whether Armstrong sings or it's an instrumental. Its a perfect show for jazz snobs and noobs alike. There are enough sing-along classics to make anyone with a glancing knowledge of old standards to enjoy themselves and the playing is tight enough to make even the biggest snob take notice. The sound is perfect. I don't have any information on its source, but at the end there is an interview with Louis so presumably it was recorded by a radio or television show, or possibly was meant for an official album that never go released. Whatever the source it sounds fantastic.

There is a small technical glitch. "When the Saints Go Marching In" is split into two tracks, they fit together seemlessly so if you are just letting it play you won't notice, but on shuffle mode it will drive you crazy. That's the way the song came when I got it and I'm not smart enough to fix it. Consider that my apology.

Don't let that stop you from downloading this; it truly is a great show - tons of fun and with enough musicianship to make just about everyone happy.

Download the MP3@320kps: Part I, Part II

Set I
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Back Home Again in Indiana
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
The Bucket's Got a Hole In It
Blueberry Hill
Tin Roof Blues
Struttin' with Some Barbecue
Billy Kyle Piano Jam!
The Man I Love
My Sweet Baby
Big Mama's Back in Town > Love That Man
Baby it's Cold Outside
Stompin' at the Savoy
Set II
The Life of Didley Rambo
It's So Good
Up the Lazy River
Shadrack, Meshack, Abendigo
When the Saints Go Marching In
When the Saints Go Marching In (Pt. 2)
High Society
Billy Kyle Piano Solo II
Dumb, Dumb, Dumby
Post Show Interview with L.A.
Struttin' With Some Barbecue
Louis Armstrong - Trumpet, Vocals
Kenny Johns - Drums
Billy Kyle - Piano
Arvel Shaw - Bass
Trummy Young - Trombone
Barnie Begard - Clarinet
Thelma Middleton - Vocals