As easy as it is to characterize Howard Armstrong as the last link in the once great African-American string band tradition, he really had the kind of personality and talent that transcended simple genre labels. A visual artist as well as a consummate musician (he is rumored to have been able to play 22 different types of instruments), his grasp of musical styles was panoramic, ranging from blues, jazz, country, and pop to all manner of jigs, reels, waltzes, and spirituals, and he could sing and entertain in four languages, including German, Polish, and Italian as well as English. Although he tended to concentrate on fiddle and mandolin in his later years, no musical style or instrument was ever safely out of reach of Armstrong's sweeping vision…
Stoned Soul Picnic dates from the earlier part of Roy Ayers' career as a leader, before he delved heavily into R&B and funk fusions and instead concentrated more on soul-jazz grooves. Ayers leads a septet including such big names as pianist Herbie Hancock, altoist Gary Bartz, bassist Ron Carter, and flutist Hubert Laws. The Laura Nyro-penned title track foreshadows Ayers' later forays beyond the boundaries of pure jazz, and the group keeps the groove percolating nicely throughout, making Stoned Soul Picnic one of Ayers' better jazz-oriented outings.
This 10-CD set is as good a compendium of the genius of Louis Armstrong as anyone could wish for. It’s all here: the early years with the King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson bands, the glorious period of the Hot Fives and Sevens, the big band recordings of the Thirties, the collaborations with contemporaries such as Ella Fitzgerald. Then there are the later recordings, when Satchmo’s celebrity empowered him to soar over many political and racial divides. There’s also a fascinating unreleased Hollywood Bowl concert from 1956, a CD of “out-takes” from recording sessions, and a revealing interview with Dan Morgenstern.
Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 18 of King Oliver's 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets.
Very nice set of Mingus' legendary Candid recordings – produced in 1960, after Mingus angrily departed Columbia records, and was finally given the freedom to work in the way that he wanted. The recordings are some of Mingus best – and they feature a righteous anger and sheer jazz power that's unmatched by few other recordings.
Recorded in 1957, Ella & Louis Again re-teams Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong after the success of their first album and a popular series of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl the previous year. Stylistically, Fitzgerald and Armstrong had very different histories; he started out in Dixieland before branching out into classic jazz and swing, whereas Fitzgerald started out as a swing-oriented big-band vocalist before becoming an expert bebopper…
The 43 tracks that make up the first part of the The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 of Louis Armstrong are remarkable not only for the outstanding performances they reflect, but for the many settings Armstrong recorded in during the era. While none of this material will come as a surprise to collectors, those who are starting to check out Armstrong's post-New Orleans period would do themselves a favor in scoping this collection because the Decca years, even more so than his long tenure with Verve, showcase Armstrong at the pinnacle of American popular music, and that that music happens to be jazz is even more revelatory.
Masters Of American Music The Story Of Jazz may be the most concise informative documentary on jazz to date. Five discs consisting of six and a half hours of material is presented in concise, informative segments. Comparisons to Ken Burns Jazz are inevitable, but unnecessary. This documentary combines extremely rare footage of performances and interviews to analyze the evolution of jazz and highlight four of its icons. Originally a television 'mini-series', the release of this limited edition digitally re-mastered set is good news for the world of jazz.