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Satch Blows The Blues by Louis Armstrong

Does the world really need another compilation of Louis Armstrong’s music -- while he’s a giant in the history of music, but surely not an under-represented-by-recordings one? The answer in this case is a resounding yeah, Amen, bring it on. The "theme" of Satch Blows The Blues is a chronological presentation of Blues or blues-related/-themed tunes from his earliest and best, most earthshaking recordings from the 1920s as well as a few choice ones from the 30s and 50s, while his flame was still burning hot and bright. While some so-called "purists" would understandably balk at Armstrong’s post-30s pop and Show-Biz repertoires, they won’t find anything to carp about here. (Well, OK, a couple spots of the 50s sides are a wee bit over-the-top.) The 20s ‘n’ 30s stuff is SO classic I feel confident in my overstatement of no home should be without this (at least if you can’t afford Legacy’s Complete Hot 5s/7s boxset). Armstrong’s vocals are a joy to behold - it’s easy to understand why he and Bing Crosby were the main templates for pop vocalizing in the days before Sinatra. His singing wasn’t "just" a side-dish to his incredible singing, crackling trumpet - in the earlier years he hadn’t yet developed the trademark rasp he was known for, and he was quite the Cool Cat Crooner (albeit one with some blue New Orleans/Chicago gravel at the base of his throat). Many other joys await the Listener: marvel at the 20s’ "St. Louis Blues" long before it became a cliche standard - note the Latin/Cuban rhumba/mambo influence as it lays the foundation for the Swing and dance big bands to come in the 30s (and beyond). "(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue" deals with racism in an elegantly bittersweet manner, and note the roots of Ambient music in the shimmering intro to "Basin Street Blues." This stuff is as important in/to the history of American music as the 40s Dial and Savoy recordings of Charlie Parker, the Sun sessions of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, the 50s Chess sides of Chuck Berry and the Sinatra sides at Capitol. Real good sound quality, too.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Louis Armstrong
  • CD Title: Satch Blows The Blues
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Columbia / Legacy Recordings
  • Musicians: Louis A.: trumpet, vocals; Earl Hines, Luis Russell: piano; Don Redman: saxophone, vocals; Zutty Singleton, Paul Barbarin: drums; Albert Nicholas, Jimmy Strong: clarinet.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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