The Great American Songbook

The Great American Songbook

by Louis Armstrong


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While Louis Armstrong didn't invent jazz, he certainly shaped it in his own image, personalizing it, popularizing it, and giving it a template to follow into the modern age. He did this with his trumpet skills, obviously, joyously swinging and playing his way around melodies in breathtaking improvisations, but he also did it with his singing, which used a horn man's lexicon to slide, slur, and bend melodies into delightfully new and surprisingly natural shapes until it isn't difficult to say that American popular singing begins with Louis Armstrong. The 14 songs presented here, recorded in the wide span between 1929 and 1958, simply prove the point. Armstrong lifted songs like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" (featured here in a 1956 live version from Chicago), "Stardust," and "Ain't Misbehavin'" (drawn from a 1947 performance at New York's Town Hall) from their Tin Pan Alley roots into the annals of classic American song, and he set the standard for how to sing and occupy a song on a personal level, literally inventing modern pop singing. It wasn't a matter of following a melody as written. Any reasonably able singer could do that. Armstrong, again using improvisational tools no doubt learned from his horn playing, bent the melody to other purposes, shortening it, lengthening it, syncopating it, and circling it until it shone far past its original shape, yet retained that shape as well, and this innovative, playful approach to singing has been aped by thousands of singers since until it is impossible to imagine modern pop or jazz singing without Armstrong's considerable influence. Listen to how he makes Hoagy Carmichael's "Lazy River" (the version presented here is from 1931) take unexpected turns and shifts, bending and rolling onward the way a real river would, never static or still but full of endless little variations in motion, always in sight of its original shape, but also changing down the length of its melody until it is possible to equate Armstrong's singing with a long, gliding, and improvised trumpet solo, the whole thing done with such warmth and joy that it uplifts even as much as it redefines and restructures. That's singing. That's jazz. That's Louis Armstrong. Oh, and he plays some pretty cool trumpet on these sides, too.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/05/2006
Label: Sony
UPC: 0828767787824
catalogNumber: 77878

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Louis Armstrong   Primary Artist,Trumpet,Vocals
Lonnie Johnson   Guitar
Paul Barbarin   Drums
Eddie Condon   Banjo
Bobby Hackett   Cornet
Lionel Hampton   Drums,Vibes
Budd Johnson   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Albert Nicholas   Alto Saxophone
Bill Perkins   Banjo,Guitar
Jack Teagarden   Trombone,Vocals
Teddy Wilson   Piano
Luis Russell   Piano
Barrett Deems   Drums
Bob Haggart   Bass
Edmond Hall   Clarinet
Mort Herbert   Bass
Peanuts Hucko   Clarinet
Trummy Young   Vocals
Joe Bailey   Bass,Tuba
Danny Barcelona   Drums
Lester Boone   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Dick Cary   Piano
Big Sid Catlett   Drums
Pops Foster   Bass
Luther Graven   Trombone
Tubby Hall   Drums
Henry Hicks   Trombone
J.C. Higginbotham   Trombone
Teddy Hill   Tenor Saxophone
Hite   Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Charlie Holmes   Alto Saxophone
Preston Jackson   Trombone
George James   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Keg Johnson   Trombone
Marvin Johnson   Alto Saxophone
Billy Kyle   Piano
John Lindsay   Bass
Castor McCord   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
"Big" Mike McKendrick   Banjo,Guitar
Bill Oldham   Bass
George Oldham   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
George Orendorff   Trumpet
Yank Porter   Drums
Henry Prince   Piano
Zilner Randolph   Trumpet
Harold Scott   Trumpet
Arvell Shaw   Bass
Bobby Holmes   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Ed Anderson   Trumpet
Charlie Alexander   Piano
Charlie Jones   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Ellis Whiutlock   Trumpet
Albert Washington   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Theodore McCord   Alto Saxophone
Scoville Johnson   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone

Technical Credits

Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
George Avakian   Producer
H. Brooks   Composer
Will Friedwald   Liner Notes
R.J. Jones   Producer
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Zilner Randolph   Arranger
Bob Stephens   Producer
Justin Ring   Producer
Tommy Rockwell   Producer
Triana DOrazio   Packaging Manager

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