Dot Time Records is proud to announce the September 27th release of Armstrong in Europe . Part of Dot Time’s Legacy Series , and the fourth Armstrong release, Armstrong 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 Armstrong 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) . Accompanying this CD and digital release will be a stunning vinyl package of Armstrong in Germany released on the same date.
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, 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.
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 ground shaking 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 oneconcert, 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…”.
The CD is now available for pre-order at https://www.dottimerecords.com/product/louis-armstrong-live-in-europe/