When Big Bill Bissonnette assembles a compilation CD, you get your money’s worth. Here is one hour and thirteen minutes of scarce Louis Armstrong material covering 3 decades.
The first session is from a WNEW broadcast of October 19,1938. This is a classic band featuring Jack Teagarden, Bud Freeman and Fats Waller. The drummer seems to be a bit of a mystery and some fans say it’s Zutty Singleton while others vote for George Wettling. Bissonnette says it’s Slick Jones. I won’t argue with Bill on this point. It certainly doesn’t sound like Zutty or George. Wettling would have been doubtful anyway as he was still very busy with Artie Shaw through December of 1938.
The fact is that this is great music any way you look at it. Both Armstrong and Waller are fabulous and I’m the first to say that neither Bud Freeman nor Jack Teagarden ever played a bad date. Just kidding! No letters please.
The second session is from a festival in Nice, France and was recorded on February 22, 1948. This is basically the same band that appeared on the unforgettable Town Hall and Symphony Hall concerts. However, you would never know it. In my opinion, the musicians are totally uninspired. Add the fact that the acetate masters have deteriorated badly over the years; you have, at best, a rare
performance. Even the flashy drumming of big Sid Catlett and Satchmo’s genius couldn’t save it.
Better things are in store for the listener. The last session features Satchmo’s band from Basin Street East in 1956. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for this band and saw them on a Canadian tour. Ed Hall performs his classic version of the 1919 hit, Dardanella. If Hall’s rendition of the tune doesn’t turn your crank, check for a pulse. The entire set at Basin Street East is wonderful and Armstrong’s Someday You’ll Be Sorry
is a winner.
Here is some worthwhile output from one of the world’s finest jazz performers.