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May 2006

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia Vol. 2
Storyville

When Louis Armstrong was in his prime, Dixieland had long passed its own peak. But as Satchmo proves on these 19 tracks, culled from two Scandinavian tours (Stockholm and Copenhagen in 1955; Stockholm again in ’59), the whole idea behind jazz was to be completely spontaneous, have a ball and please the people. Well, Armstrong and his two combos have the time of their lives, and it’s so infectious, the adoring fans at both venues just keep screaming their approval.

Trombonist Trummy Young and pianist Billy Kyle are heard in both concert excerpts; the only front-line change finds two of the most melodic clarinetists of that era: Edmond Hall (’55) and Peanuts Hucko (’59). Blues belter Velma Middleton and Armstrong turn “St. Louis Blues” into an adlibbing highlight. Young is a consistent highlight himself: He can tailgate with the best of the traditionalists, but when the trombonist inserts his sly statements, he sounds like a velvety Vic Dickenson. “After You’ve Gone” and W.C. Handy’s “Ole Miss” prove to be the album’s most intense swingers. “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” turns up four times, but thanks to Armstrong, nothing is repeated—not with his patented za-zu-za-ba-doo-type scat.

Originally published in May 2006
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