"LIVE IN AUSTRALIA"
LOUIS ARMSTRONG ALL STARS
DVD MEDICI ARTS
* * * *
Louis Armstrong is acknowledged as the father of jazz trumpet and even though this 1964 concert captured on film is probably identical to hundreds of others, it still justifies his legendary status.
His band is filled with names familiar to Armstrong fans: pianist Billy Kyle, drummer Danny Barcelona, bassist Arvell Shaw, clarinetist Joe Darensbourg and trombonist Trummy Young — all Armstrong regulars. He also uses vocalist Jewell Brown, a fine singer in her own right, on "Did You Hear About Jerry," and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
Armstrong takes a lot of vocals with his patented gravelly voice and expansive grin on tunes including "When It's Sleep Time Down South," "Now You Has Jazz High Society," "Mack the Knife," "Sweet Georgia Brown" — all standard Armstrong fare.
This is most valuable because Armstrong has passed on and likely so have most or all of the talent he had on stage. It is an absolute must for collectors.
* * * * *
It's been nearly 10 years since vocalist Cassandra Wilson has compiled a CD of jazz standards, but here she is with a sterling 12-tune, five-star winner.
Her honey smooth voice simply glides over notes with grace but never lacks emotion. She opens with a faster than usual version of "Lover Come Back to Me." She slides right into a sleepy bossa nova version of "A Day in the Life of a Fool." Marvin Sewell's electric guitar adds to the dreamy mood cast by Wilson and Jason Moran adds a contemplative piano solo.
"Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is a reflective piece where Wilson is accompanied by only Sewell, this time on acoustic guitar. It really works. Wilson also includes Juan Tizol's "Caravan," which begins rhythmically generated by drummer Herlin Riley and Nigerian master percussionist Lekan Babaloa. She rides those rhythms from start to finish.
She reprises blues singer-composer Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" in a version featuring accompaniment by Sewell and Riley.
It is a real treat to hear Ms. Wilson sing standards. We just wonder why it took so long. We hope this is the beginning of a trend.
"I HAD THE CRAZIEST DREAM LAST NIGHT — THE MUSIC OF HARRY WARREN
DAVID BERGER OCTET
SUCH SWEET THUNDER
* * * *
The late Oscar-winning pianist-composer Harry Warren wrote more top 10 tunes played on the "Your Hit Parade" radio program than did Irving Berlin.
New York big band leader David Berger put together an octet to record a dozen Warren tunes. The tunes themselves are memorable, but it's doubtful many people could identify the composer. Warren wrote simple tunes with catchy phrases. "Jeepers Creepers," "You'll Never Know," "September in the Rain," "Serenade in Blue," "I Only Have Eyes for You" are just a few Warren songs included here.
Berger's octet is tight and features two fine saxophonists: Harry Allen and Joe Temperley. My favorite is "Serenade in Blue" because of Brian Parische's soulful solo. This is good easy to listen to jazz without being schmaltzy.
Dick Bogle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org