Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by shokhead, Jul 13, 2009.
Looking for a nice sounding cd, maybe a comp of his early stuff like pre 60 or even 50.
Maybe not what you had in mind, but this is an essential 4CD-set: Louis Armstrong's seminal 1925-1928 Hot Fives/Hot Sevens, mastered by the late great John R.T. Davies.
As far as sound quality is concerned, bear in mind that the recordings date from the 1920s.
the Ken Burns disc, released by Sony in 2000 as a part of a jazz set, is excellent
I second the Hot Fives and Sevens set, and I much prefer the one depicted over the Columbia box set. The Columbia set has been cleaned up to the point of losing harmonic overtones that got stripped out with the noise reduction. The JSP set is noisier, but, you actually hear more music. Early runs of the Columbia set may have had a speed or mastering issue on a disc or two. Plus, the JSP set is cheap.
I also like his recordings with Ella Fitzgerald.
"The Essential Louis Armstrong"
if you really just want a glimpse on CD, heavily slanted towards the early peak years. Personally I just dig Pops, every era offers something. He made so many recordings, from 1923 to 1970... My suggestion is to get most of his recordings by era/label in as comprehensive of collections as practical and try avoiding the billion-odd spurious comps. If you want more detailed suggestions just ask here.
Hey, I wanted to start this very same thread not 5 minutes ago!
I'm listening right now to some mp3s of Sony's Essential Louis Armstrong. I used to play trumpet and love a lot of trumpeters but somehow Louis escaped me.
Anyway, I LOVE this comp! I'm off to buy it. Sounds fantastic (I have nothing else to compare it to), these early songs make me want to bounce right off the balcony, good Lord, save me. What the heck have I been missing?!
(It was recently watching Jungle Book that got me thinking about Satchmo - cuz of Louis Prima. Loved him in JB, looked him up, saw he was a contemporary of Armstrong)
So what is your recommendation(s) that includes every hot 5 and hot 7 masters and hopefully two versions of (heavenly) Stardust, too?
Satch Plays Fats
Louis Armstrong pays tribute to the music of "Fats" Waller.
Although not a compilation, it is a beautiful album, and well recorded, too. I prefer the original vinyl, but this CD is nice sounding:
Here's the ones I like for sound quality so far.
Great Original Performances 1923-1931 KBBC/MFSL BBC CD 597
Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington MFSL Aluminum MFCD 2-807
Louis Armstrong Best 20 Songs Japan MCA 35XD-507
The above set sounds better than the Sony/Columbia version of the same titles
in the long box. Also the Sony set does not have proper sleeves/inlays for the discs,
so they get all scratched up when you remove them even once.
Supposedly the Columbia 4-cd set from a few years ago has had no NR applied to it.
It certainly sounds like none has been applied. My beef with them its the
boosted treble and the scratch-your-discs-up packaging. For the sake of clarity
I will now hunt down covers so you can see which Columbia's HAVE nr and which ones don't.
They did one brilliant thing with the transfers - they would switch (shapes of) needles
from disc to disc, track to track, and would dub from the cleaner channel (either left
or right) - as to avoid any and nearly all noise (and nicks) on the discs they dubbed from.
On a couple tracks they were dubbing from the last disc in existence.
Here is the set with the excellent transfers
Except for the treble boost and the disc-marking sleeves this set would be definitive.
These came out earlier
Speed issues, dubbed from tape and not actual discs, NR applied -
these feature all the mistakes you'd find in an early, let's-clean-
this-up-as-we-go transfer to digital. AVOID THESE DISCS.
I remember reading that 'Rocket 88' was left off an early Rhino 'Sun Records' comp
because they could not find a tape source for it that was not dubbed from a disc.
Thankfully this wrong-idea is no longer prevalent and these days the importance
of the music takes precedence over where they found it.
I believe that's the set my friend and I compared to the JSP (this was years ago). There was something about the brass that sounded wrong on the Columbia--it really seemed to be missing a harmonic that was present on the JSP (the brass sounded fuller and more realistic on the JSP--you could that trailing zing of the harmonic). I just attributed the lack of harmonic to being a victim of getting lost in the hiss revoval. But, since you say no noise reduction was done, it must be something else.
It's possible it was the older set. I didn't see the discs.
Only perhaps the single most influential artist in modern popular musics. It's tough to articulate why because it's a "gut thing," beyond specific trends limited to genre. For all his success I feel he was taken somewhat for granted and undervalued in his own life time and much of the praise since still often misses the mark. He was billed "The World's Greatest Trumpet Player" but that cuts him short IMH. He left an imprint, not so much technical as a very human one of "feel."
Louis had a certain sensual impulsiveness and urgency, with an innate elegance that almost everyone could connect with. Gravelly and "imperfect" yet rich in human and musical beauty. It bridged barriers and influenced far beyond his fans and genres, seeming to permeate a little into how folks approached music. When I listen very far into the past, I almost need to listen with a different set of ears: popular musics before Louis Armstrong (and Bing Crosby, actually) and music since. Before are the eras deeply informed by conventions and traditions of recital; ever since their initial flush of popularity and influence, more leaning toward intimacy and individualism. That's vastly overstating and simplifying understand, I'm just trying to convey the gist of it without going into reams of analysis.
Since you played trumpet there's a lot you'll want to enjoy. For one check out Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography (Verve 3 CDs). Hear his beautiful trumpet on When You're Smiling, both the original from 1930 and his emotional effort at it on that set in 1956. He'd been through so much and so much has changed including his playing but the person is still such a singular soul.
While I do wish record companies had tried harder to record him playing more music in a "jazz trumpet" context, I don't care much about any of the other criticism. Much of it strikes me as silly. After influencing nearly the whole music scene a time or two, did he "fail" to keep changing and doing it over again? Did some think he was "uncle tom"-ing? Bah. He was who he was and we're all richer for it, if we choose to appreciate him and his music for what it is.
Oh yeah, no mistaking that Louis Armstrong was a huge, essential part of Prima's musical identity on many levels. Most of Prima's best is on a delightful (and decently mastered) Bear Family set, given the file system-bustin' title, The Complete Capitol Recordings of Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera and the Witnesses.
Trivia for us sound geeks: did you know much of The Jungle Book soundtrack was engineered by Bruce Botnick of The Doors, etc fame?
There are but two primary choices: the JSP set and Columbia's set from c.2000 (not to be confused with the startlingly poor earlier Columbia CDs). Although the fidelity (from 1925-27) is very limited, the reissues sound quite different. As a result the opinions are sharply divided and I can only suggest you would best make the choice to your taste. The JSP is smoother sounding with lower-budget packaging. Columbia has the best sources with more aggressive sound and elaborate packaging. In my humble, either set will serve at conveying the essence.
A great album. Steve's mastering on vinyl (Pure Pleasure Records) blows away all other editions, no contest.
That should've read: "you could hear that trailing zing of the harmonic".
The treble boost makes it unlistenable to me. I prefer the Davies-mastered JSP set.
Is the vinyl that Steve was working on out yet? This is one Jazz title I'm dying to get my hands on! Not big on Jazz personally but Louis Armstrong is definitely "crossover" for me
An excellent record from the 50s.
Plays W.C. Handy makes a nice companion to Satch plays Fats, with an excellent version of St. Louis Blues as the opening track.
Has The Beat Generation made it to CD yet? Does it exist anywhere in stereo?
I have The JSP Hot 5's & 7's and the Essential double disc compilation (and several other discs). The Essential is OK for its second disc, the first being the Hot 5's & 7's tracks that JSP beats for sound quality hands down, plus it is cheap. JSP is highly recommended!
See post number 2 for the Hot 5's and 7's. He didnt record Stardust with those 'bands'.
Satchmo timeless version of Stardust can be find on this JSP set:.
This is as good, or even better than the Hot 5s set IMHO.
Shokhead, I apologize for writing not for the topic but I need to know on what Armsrong's CD I can find the song "Go Down Moses"? Maybe somebody could tell me? I've been looking on Allmusic.com. and found two compilations with it but it's impossible to buy them. If there is any available CD that I can buy now?
These sessions are wonderful. Highly recommended.
thanks for the interesting read, apileocole. I don't why Louis escaped me all these years. I'm getting the JSP through my local library. Listening to his '20s stuff, I hear him everywhere. Squirrel Nut Zippers for example. Kermit Ruffins channels Louis in every note he plays.
Cool to know that Botnick did the Jungle Book sessions. I love the Prima stuff! If he did the horn playing as well as the singing (the King Louie song) he's cool in my book!
Sadly, his sideman died recently. Not very big news, I guess.
Separate names with a comma.