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October 2005

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia Vol. 2
Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia Vol. 1

Storyville

It is good for the psyche to return now and then to the man who made jazz a soloist's art. We needn't go all the way back to Louis Armstrong's duets with King Oliver or his Hot Five recordings. The earliest of these previously unreleased performances find him on tour in Copenhagen and Stockholm in 1933, firmly established as a major star and greeted with wild enthusiasm. Storyville suggests that these six tracks may be the earliest known concert recordings by a jazz artist. "I Cover the Waterfront," "Dinah" and the others hew to the routines Armstrong established with his studio versions, but they have the excitement of his relationship with live audiences.

The remaining 34 tracks are from concerts by three editions of the All-Stars from 1949 to 1955. The gems among his solos here may astonish detractors of Armstrong's work after the 1920s. His repertoire did not change much in the '40s and '50s, but he was no carbon-copy soloist. He performed his hits along with his jazz staples, and even on "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" and "Can Anyone Explain?" we get trumpet playing that soars and singing that warms the heart.

Originally published in October 2005
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