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A Vancouver Concert Live - 1951 by Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars

How’s this for openers: The greatest jazz trumpeter in the world and his all-star band are in town! The concert is sold out. A very happy event is at hand. The king will be ravenously welcomed by his thousands of adoring fans. Only one little problem. The hotel that Louis booked into has just told him that they don’t accept Negroes and he is standing there in the lobby with his suitcases piled all around him and no place to spend the night. Where is he? Mississippi? Alabama? Hate to disappoint you anti-American types but Louis is standing in the lobby of the Vancouver Hotel in British Columbia, Canada on January 26, 1951. Those are the words of Jazz Crusade’s Big Bill Bissonnette and lead off his touching liner notes for this album.

This is the Armstrong unit that earned Armstrong the enviable title of Ambassador Satch. He formed the All-Stars in 1946 and staffed it with some of the finest players available at the time. Trombonist Jack Teagarden joined the band in 1946 and remained until late1951. The big Texan is featured here on "Stardust," "Lover," and the Louis and Jack patented version of "Old Rockin’ Chair." The latter tune is, alone, worth the price of admission.

The All-Stars employed some of jazzdom’s most exciting drummers including Barrett Deems, Big Sid Catlett, George Wettling, Kenny John and Cozy Cole. Cole’s work on this concert is great and he lays down a spectacular performance on "Stompin’ At the Savoy" and again behind Barney Bigard’s brilliant solo on "Tea for Two." While Bigard shared the clarinet chair over the years with Edmond Hall, Peanuts Hucko and Lyle Johnson, he spent more time with Louis than the others.

Earl "Fatha" Hines was a constant with the All-Stars and his reputation is legendary. His work on the band’s reading of "Love Me or Leave Me" is brilliant with ample backing by Arvell Shaw and Cozy Cole.

Velma Middleton was Armstrong’s perennial vocalist from 1941 to 1961. Middleton never recorded with anyone but Satchmo and she died during the band’s African tour in 1961. Middleton is featured on "Hucklebuck" and "Where Did You Stay last Night" but captures the audience’s enthusiastic applause with the little-known "I Love The Guy."

Is there really any reason to comment on the performance of Louis Armstrong? I think not! The All-Star period showcased some of his most exciting performances since the Hot 5s and 7s.

This is a fine concert overall and as one would expect, the sound quality leaves something to be desired. The album still deserves five shining stars.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars
  • CD Title: A Vancouver Concert Live - 1951
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Jazz Crusade
  • Tracks: Royal Garden Blues, I Used To Love You, The Hucklebuck, Back-O-Town Blues, I Love The Guy, C’est Si Bon, Stardust, Old Rockin’ Chair, Tea For Two, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, Lover, Love Me Or Leave Me, La Vie En Rose, C-Jam Blues, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Where Did You Stay Last Night.
  • Musicians: Louis Armstrong (trumpet, vocal), Jack Teagarden (trombone, vocal), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Earl Hines (piano), Arvell Shaw (bass), Cozy Cole (drums), Velma Middleton (vocals).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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