The Early Years - Recorded Live 1938-1949
Legacy International, 2006
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/20/2007
I remember as a child seeing him on the many variety shows that populated TV in the late 60s, and thinking that while he sounded like the Cookie Monster, the guy sure is happy. Which, of course, was one of the reasons for his popularity. His infectious personality drew you in and it was impossible to resist his charm.
But since our focus on is on jazz, I went back to his life before "Hello Dolly," when "Satchmo" (short for Satchel-mouth) was one of the world’s most popular jazz musicians.
Armstrong rose up from poverty in
While he didn't invent scat by any means, he definitely took it to a new level with his unique improvisational style. As an arranger, he retooled traditional Dixieland arrangements with swing and blues influences. At a time when solos were often an afterthought and usually were just one musician expanding the basic theme of the melody, Satchmo helped popularize improvisational solos, which became his trademark.
Finding a single album that showcases the early period of his career isn't hard -- there are probably a hundred -- but picking just one is tough. A true jazz aficionado told me it had to be live and handed me this disc.
It features live recordings from an 11-year span culled from many different sources. One of the things I liked about the tracks is many of them are from live radio broadcasts and include introductions by the host of that particular show. The quality is great, despite the age of the source recordings, and it has a very organic feel. The performances feature some of Satchmo's well-known jazz standards such as "Tiger Rag," "Muskrat Ramble" and "Heebie Jeebies."
Supported by a variety of artists, it's an excellent sampler of his core jazz legacy. I was not overly familiar with this era of his work and I found this disc to be a great introduction. You will too.