Louis Armstrong Live in Europe (CD & Digital Release: September 27, 2019)
Louis Armstrong Live in Germany (LP Release: December 13, 2019)
Louis Armstrong Live in France (LP Release: July 10, 2020)
Label: Dot Time Records
Part of Dot Time’s Legacy Series, and the fourth Armstrong release, Louis Armstrong Live in Europe features the audio from two recordings of quintessential European performances by the great Louis Armstrong which were recovered from the archives of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Tracks 1-9 on the CD release of Louis Armstrong Live in Europe feature the audio from a 1948 performance recorded from Louis Armstrong and His All Stars’ run at the Nice Opera House in Paris. This historical concert marked Armstrong’s performance at the first ever Nice International Jazz Festival. Tracks 10-16 feature the audio from a Titania Palast, Berlin recording of Louis and his All Stars which was initially broadcasted on RIAS (Radio in the American Sector). The Nice Opera House performance features a 46 year old Louis Armstrong in his musical prime, with Jack Teagarden on trombone and vocals, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano, Arvell Shaw on bass, and Sid Catlett on drums. Armstrong’s band in 1952 in Germany features Trummy Young on trombone, Bob McCracken on clarinet and vocals, Marty Napoleon on piano, Arvell Shaw on bass, Cozy Cole on drums and Velma Middleton on vocals. Both European performances demonstrate Armstrong’s stunning musicality, expert showmanship and ferocious leadership. Live in Europe precedes two LP releases: Louis Armstrong Live in Germany and Louis Armstrong: Live in France.
Armstrong made his first tour of England in 1932 and then lived in Europe between July 1933 and January 1935. This 1948 performance as the headliner of the Nice International Jazz Festival marked the consummate trumpet player’s return to Europe. British trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton caught Armstrong’s performance and vividly recalled how he found himself “quaking at the ferocity with which he directed the band. If Sid Catlett’s drums started to intrude too heavily upon a solo, Louis would turn to him and hiss at him like a snake. And more than once Earl Hines’s exuberance was curbed by a sharp ‘Cut it boy!’” Armstrong’s performance in Nice was momentous to say the least, 1948’s Nice International Jazz Festival was the world’s very first jazz festival on which Newport Jazz Festival and Monterey were both inspired. Armstrong’s performance introduced his music, and jazz music in general, to a much wider audience, one of Armstrong’s first acts as the jazz ambassador to the world.
The 1948 concert at the Nice Opera House sees a flawless performance from Louis and the All Stars. A showcase of the virtuosity of the ensemble, the unmistakable sound of Earl Hines on piano adorned with the Teagarden’s masterful trombone performance, is a treat to audiences. However, Armstrong demonstrates that he’s the leader on each track, whether shooting for the fences with some fierce improvising on “Panama”, scatting like a demon on “Them There Eyes” or making a serious statement on “Black and Blue.” Louis and the band started the evening with a groundshakingly ebullient version of Kid Ory’s “Muskrat Ramble”, ending with a pleased Armstrong exclaiming “Yeah!” In his trademark grumble. The spellbound audience roars with applause as the band transitions into the endearing call-and-response of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rocking Chair”. Next, the band features Barney Bigard demonstrating his facility on the clarinet over Benny Goodman’s standard “Rose Room”. The band ends the iconic piece with an extended glissando from Bigard’s clarinet, this dazzling high note, held for nearly 20 seconds, leading to the songs closing downbeat, arouses an unparalleled excitement from the audience.
Armstrong’s voice is truly energetic and refined on these recordings. Ironically, Promoter Ernie Anderson remembered Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser telling him before a trip to Europe, “Whatever you do, don’t sing. These are all foreigners. Remember, they don’t understand English.” Armstrong “nodded gravely” but according to Anderson, “It should be noted that Louis completely ignored Joe Glaser’s instruction not to sing. He opened every concert singing Fats Waller’s paean to the racial mood in America, ‘Black and Blue.’ It was always marvelously received.” We, as listeners, can only be grateful that Glaser’s request fell upon deaf ears.
The 1952 recordings in Berlin saw a slew of personnel changes. Armstrong’s longtime collaborator Arvell Shaw reprised his role on the upright bass while Cozy Cole replaced the ailing Catlett in 1949. Bigard was replaced by Texas-born clarinetist Bob McCracken. Pianist Marty Napoleon and trombonist Trummy Young brought a new, exciting energy to the outfit. The recording includes a comic duet with Middleton on “Can Anyone Explain,” a slow, throwback instrumental treatment of “Tin Roof Blues” and one of his biggest Decca hits of the period, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”
Reminiscing to Edward R. Murrow in 1955, Armstrong said, “We played in Germany one concert, the first time we went there, and the people was sitting there with those lorgnettes when they first come in. And when we got down to ‘The Bucket’s Got a Hole in It,’ they put them down and [starts clapping and stomping his foot], ‘Yeah, Daddy!’” This new-found treasure goes far to capture the ebullient nature of Satchmo’s performances in Europe that seems to surpass even the vitality of the artist’s home-country performances. Says the maestro himself, “That's why the people in Europe, they get the benefit of this music that America sleeps on…”.
More About the Dot Time Records Louis Armstrong Legacy Series:
Recently, Dot Time Records reached an agreement with the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation to release four albums of previously unreleased music from the Louis Armstrong collection. These recordings include Armstrong’s Standard Oil Sessions, Armstrong’s 1950’s club date performances, his 1964 Sparks, Las Vegas concert and finally Louis Armstrong Live in Europe. Legacy series recordings will be released on CD, Vinyl and Digital Platforms.
During his lifetime, Louis Armstrong amassed a huge collection of recordings. From live concerts to studio and broadcast recordings, the range is extensive. The majority of these recordings along with other Armstrong artifacts are held in the Louis Armstrong Collection at Queens College in New York. The Louis Armstrong Legacy Series will bring a selection of these recordings from Louis’ personal collection to the public for the first time ever.
Series producer Jerry Roche states, “Producing this music will mean people can connect again with the greatness of Louis Armstrong.”
Previous Dot Time Legacy Series Armstrong Releases include:
Volume 1 – The Standard Oil Sessions
A 55 minute recording was recorded in San Francisco, California on January 20, 1950 by the Standard Oil Company for their radio show, “Musical Map of America.” The recording was episode 19, “Musical Story of New Orleans,” and featured Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines. For reasons not known, the broadcast was never made and Armstrong was given the acetate discs of the sessions.
Volume 2 – 1950’s Club Performances
This release includes live club recordings from Storyville, Blue Note and a selection of European shows. Musicians include Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines and Cozy Cole among others. Louis Armstrong recorded multiple radio broadcasts of his nightclub appearances and in many cases the acetate recordings were given personally to Louis Armstrong after broadcast.
Volume 3 – 1964 Sparks, Nevada Concert
A rare live concert recording by the All Stars from Sparks, Nevada recorded in June of 1964 (right after “Hello, Dolly!” became a number one single) featuring Russell “Big Chief” Moore, Joe Darensbourg, Billy Kyle, Arvell Shaw, Danny Barcelona and Jewel Brown. This concert was professionally recorded and given to Louis Armstrong, who dubbed it to two separate reels.
Each of the four releases in the "Legacy Series' are available in a limited edition collector's version featuring exclusive packaging and a 20-page booklet written by Ricky Riccardi - Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of best selling book “What A Wonderful World.” This booklet also contains rare photo material held in the Louis Armstrong Archive.
Known as the “21st century’s foremost expert on Louis Armstrong”, Riccardi is immersed in all things Armstrong. He runs the website, “The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong,” and has given lectures on Armstrong at venues around the world. With a Master’s degree in Jazz History and Research from Rutgers University, he has taught a “Music of Louis Armstrong” graduate course at Queens College and a six-week “Swing University” course on Louis Armstrong at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Louis Armstrong Live in France
"The audio quality is quite solid for a recording of its vintage, and Armstrong and his band (introduced as the Hot Five) are in fine form." Read this full review here.
"That’s the spirit you should have while listening to this remarkable discovery. If you love Louis as much as I do, you’ll appreciate this utterly new perspective on his genius and consider it mandatory for any record collection." Read this full feature here.
"Dot Time Records has released two vinyls as part of its Legends Series, featuring previously unreleased historical recordings from many of the greatest legends of the jazz genre." Read this full feature here.
THE VINYL SHOP
"The singing (which was long part of Armstrong’s bag) does hint at the transition into elder statesman territory, though the man was only 46 at the time, his relative youth assisting in keeping the aura of nostalgia at bay. A-" Read the full review here.
Louis Armstrong Live in Europe/Live in Germany
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"The vitality and sparkle of this music shines brightly throughout." Read the full review here.
RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
Louis Armstrong Live in Germany (⭐⭐⭐)
Read the full review here.
NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
"At the time this recording was made, jazz was the western world’s default dance and party music, to a large extent because of these guys onstage." Read the full review here.
"One hopes, perhaps naively, that instead of falling for the calls for division, Americans will look to the soothing strength that Berliners found, even for just one night, in Armstrong’s 1952 performance." Review here.
"The 16 tracks of Live In Europe (Dot Time Records), released for the first time, is like a gift from heaven." Review here.
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
Leah Williams speaks to jazz historian and head of the Dot Times Legends series Jerry Roche. Listen to full interview here.
LA JAZZ SCENE
"While not flawless, Live In Europe is full of fun and high energy, making this an excellent addition for Louis Armstrong collectors." Read the full review here.
"Louis Armstrong Live in Europe (⭐⭐⭐⭐, Dot Time) is a significant release that has been sanctioned by Armstrong's estate and is sourced from the trumpeter's own personal recording archive." Read the full review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
LA JAZZ SCENE
"...Closing with “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” Louis Armstrong leaves us a message from beyond this world and a promise, like a blown kiss, that love crosses all boundaries the same way great music does." Read the full review here.
"Throughout, we find Armstrong driving hard, in superb company and high spirits" Read the full review here.
"The bandleader’s in prime form, though his horn tells us nothing new. But what [his horn] does say speaks with convincing passion."
DEE DEE MCNEIL
“With“A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” Louis Armstrong leaves us a message from beyond and a promise, like a blown kiss, that love crosses all boundaries the same way great music does.” Read the full review here.
"With so many Louis Armstrong albums available, you might think anything new at this point would be for completists only. You’d be wrong." Read the full review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Louis Armstrong may be the most important artist the United States ever produced. That alone justifies the release of previously unheard live recordings from the late ‘40s and early ‘50s." Read the full review here.
"...we can enjoy fresh performances of Louis Armstrong and his musical mastery, as well as a vitality and purity, in the art of Sachmo, of which we seem to be in increasing need today." Read the full Bulgarian review here.
THOMAS P. HUSTAD
"Collectively, these recordings provide an important historical document." Read the full review here.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
"While there's no shortage of concert recordings by Louis Armstrong's All Stars - the iconic group that carries the Satchmo brand around the world in the last decades of his life - Louis Armstrong: Live in Europe offers something special." Read the full review here.
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND
"Timeless and charming, this vinyl-only release is a must-have for Armstrong completists." Review here.