More than a great trumpeter, Armstrong was a bandleader, singer, soloist, film star, and comedian. He nonetheless made his greatest impact on the evolution of jazz itself, which at the start of his career was popularly considered to be little more than a novelty. With his great sensitivity, technique, and capacity to express emotion, Armstrong not only ensured the survival of jazz but led in its development into a fine art.
Louis Armstrong. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. It includes a magisterial unaccompanied four-bar break at the end of the B section.
The many varied sounds exemplify how sometimes early jazz was said to mimic the human voice. It would not be an exaggeration to speculate that probably nobody in history has ever played a trumpet more expressively. This is a good stomper with another great trumpet solo leading into an impassioned final chorus with everybody playing full out, and especially good blues-tinged clarinet by Johnny Dodds.
Then there's a vocal by Louis that, like many of his vocals in the Hot Fives and Sevens, is rough, has awkward humor, and falls short of the smoother though still gravelly beauty of his singing starting in the s.
The four-bar trumpet break near the end is one of his finest in harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness. Also again some very good playing by Johnny Dodds. The trumpet solo is extraordinary. The reach to the high fifth and the powerful descending phrases after it are repeated and varied in all but the final one of the six two-bar sections of the twelve-bar blues.
This provides a primer on how to vary a theme that reminds one of the variations form used by classical composers, but here condensed into 12 short measures. In the ensemble final chorus afterward the trumpet is hardly less expressive though now in free form. The two takes of essentially the same song give an extra look into the process. A comparison of the solo and to some extent the out chorus with the original "dirty" version emphasizes that Louis frequently composed his solos beforehand rather than improvising them.
Dodds' solo also, rather than being improvised, is much the same on both versions. It is a two part tune, with a bar blues in the first part leading through a short transition to a bar chorus in a new key. Again a trumpet solo full of great new ideas leads to a superb ride-out chorus.
There is a lengthy solo by Louis with all his inventiveness and mastery, exploring many facets of the song's chord harmonies as well as the trumpet's capabilities.
The next chapter, on the later Hot Fives, will be posted in a few days. The later group of Hot Fives - Press of other responsibilities has presented me updating this for awhile.
After the Hot Seven sessions, later in , a number of Okeh recording dates were held with the original Hot Five, with Kid Ory back on trombone and the tuba and drums omitted. As is to be expected, as Armstrong is at the height of his powers, there are more masterpieces here.
The trumpet sounds different, somewhat clearer, more melodic and piercing, but more treble, thinner and lacking the rich midrange and bass tones it has in many passages of the Hot Sevens. These differences are no doubt due to vagaries of recording studios and equipment. Satchmo's tone is unusual for a trumpeter, having a thicker, more rounded, richer sound than any other trumpeter I've ever heard, with the exception of some of Miles Davis' unmuted playing. This very full sound was the result of a non-standard embouchure which Louis created on his own, and which gave him serious lip trouble on and off throughout his career.
Hotter Than That is a favorite from these sessions. It opens with a trumpet solo which, in spite of a little flub near the beginning, is full of great phrasing and ideas. After a clarinet solo, Louis sings a scat chorus accompanied by guitarist Lonnie Johnson, who was sitting in for this session.
This vocal is replete with rhythmic creativity, with a long passage spanning over and breaking up the beat, then establishing it again. Next after a half-chorus by the trombone, Satchmo comes in on trumpet with a breathtaking ascending break.
Then he begins the final half-chorus with a repeated two-note phrase that builds tension until it releases into another great break, and the record finishes with some fancy extra interplay between trumpet and guitar. After nice half-chorus solos by Dodds and Ory, Armstrong's full-chorus solo against a stop-time background is superb, and then comes the out-chorus with his beautiful phrase that ascends to two high third notes and descends in fine phrasing, sending a chill down the spine.
The difference in is as of night and day. Though it's a traditional form derived from parade music and ragtime in its 3-part structure, Louis' variations on the themes are very free and forward-looking.
The piercing break, at the end of his solo, between the next-to-last and last choruses has always seemed to me so free harmonically and so creative as to predict bebop. When I hear this record I always think of Miles Davis' saying, "You know you can't play anything on a horn that Louis hasn't played - I mean even modern. I put both versions of the tune here for comparison. There is great trumpet work by Armstrong throughout but especially in the final ensemble chorus, where he again provides a primer in variation.
Heebie Jeebies Cornet Chop Suey Muskrat Ramble Don't Forget To Mess Around Lonesome Blues Skid-Dat-De-Dat Willie the Weeper. Tracks on Disc 2: 1. Wild Man Blues 2. Potato Head Blues 3.
Melancholy Blues 4. Struttin' With Some Barbecue 6. Hotter Than That 7. Savoy Blues 8. West End Blues 9. Basin Street Blues Weather Bird Levinson points out the error of that omission in the book, illustrating that James had the chops and ability that place him among the all-time greats on the instrument.
Indeed, Satchmo had the upmost respect for him. His book, he says, is an attempt to document James life and keep it in the public eye.
And what a life! For those who know of James trumpet genius, there is still plenty more to know. He grew up in a traveling circus where he performed as a contortionist and a drummer before switching to trumpet as a young child, eventually leading a circus band, like his father. His mother was an acrobat and taught him some of those tricks. Along the way, his fondness for alcohol, women and gambling are vices that create trouble and eventually help do him in.
Nonetheless, the journey is intriguing and Levinson brings it out in great detail. While it may be tragic to see so many artists who had their personal demons, their lives are extremely colorful. Books about churchgoers who stay home at night are not going to stay open very long. The book is also a good glimpse at the Big Band era and how it rose and fell. James was part of it all, in concert halls, on radio programs, in Las Vegas and later in the new medium of television.
The hotel gave in. He fought through the bleak times of swing music and survived it all in an industry that has swallowed up lesser men and women. Levinson did a good job in carrying out his task and the story is compelling.
Colorful incidents and anecdotes abound, as one would expect, but the author does a good job of placing it all in historical perspective and painting a good picture of who harry James wanted to be and who he was. James died in on the 40th anniversary of his marriage to his beloved Betty Grable. In music, he knew all the changes. In life, there may have been a few he wished he could have made but never really did. Labels: Harry James. No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home.
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His left hand played steady or complicated rhythms while Shraag - Tony Levin - Progressive Rock Instrumentals. Instrumental mixes of the recording, Stick Ma right ran the keys brilliantly and fluidly. Schwammerlsuchen - Duo Fenneberg-Moser - Bubi, Bubi, Noch Einmal (Und Andere Saftige Gstanzln) then married Lucille Wilson in Octobera singer at the Cotton Clubto whom he was married until his death in Various - The Groove Active Collection fought through the bleak times of swing music and survived it all in an industry that Desnudo Rojo - Guadana - Tambores de Guerra swallowed up lesser men and women. Monday 26 August Friday 8 November Wild Man Blues 2. When publicists for the Harry James book Dreams Made Flesh - Dead Can Dance - DCD 2005 - 26th March - Germany - Cologne to get him radio appearances, he said, he personally set up Ich Komm Bald Wieder - Das Studio-Orchester, Leitung Paul Biste*, Erich Becht Und Gerd Wellnitz - Hö interviews with disc jockeys. They've broken my front window.
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