Monday, November 10, 2008

Louis Armstrong - New Orleans Nights (Decca, 1957; Verve, 2008)

By the mid 1950's, trumpeter Louis Armstrong had taken jazz all over the world, playing to audiences far and wide on U.S. State Department sponsored tours. But his heart never really left the city of his birth, New Orleans, and this album is a collection of Crescent City standards, interpreted by Pops and a rotating band he called the All-Stars. "New Orleans Function" is actually a New Orleans jazz funeral with the All-Stars taking the place of a marching band, and delivering a lively version of "Didn't He Ramble" in the middle. "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" has a nice trumpet and trombone mixture as Armstrong and Jack Teagarden (who sounds like he recently emptied a few buckets himself) also share the vocals. Armstrong himself takes center stage with some extraordinary playing on the warhorses "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" and "Bugle Call Rag" along with singing and playing a fine horn on the epochal "Basin Street Blues." There's just something about listening to Louis Armstrong play and sing that brings a smile to my face. This is a very happy album and it will spread joy wherever it is played.
New Orleans Nights -

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