Saturday, August 04, 2018

The 400 Blows: Evening At Pops'

So here we are, almost five years into this and we've arrived at post #400. When I began doing this I didn't expect to get this far with it or be able to stick with it to where I'd post fairly often, but it happened somehow despite my slothful nature and the time-consuming effort it takes to do this archival shit halfway right. Someday I will get to backfilling the years of missing links -- another tedious task of doom -- and this page will really be something.
So for the somewhat special occasion, I have cooked up something pretty special. This is a remaster I just did of an artist and ambassador who will never need any introduction, captured in what surely must be termed one of the first bootlegs, if you will.
How this was taped or by whom remains an elusive mystery. This one is the kind of archival piece you need a time machine for, just so you can take a little trip back and observe how it was gotten to tape. But it doesn't matter; I tried to do as little alteration to it as possible while still taking care of its more egregious problems, because honestly it's a marvelous and historic two hours pretty much just as it is.
This concert -- one of the few left unissued in the oeuvre of the Absolute Grand Daddy of American Music, born this day in 1901 -- documents a full and truly exquisite performance from a real Golden Age.
This has floated around on various unauthorized and strangely packaged silver CDs for a number of years, but I cleaned it up as best can be done with it without the excessive alteration I disfavor when working on a remaster.
I don't even know what to say about Louis Armstrong that hasn't been said by experts far more articulate than I, except that the entirety of the developmental arc of the music of the 20th Century would not exist had he never pressed a trumpet to his lips.
This show is... well it's equivalently beyond words. The participants -- Satch has Barney Bigard on board, so you're getting clarinet solos not to be believed in addition to everything else that's happening onstage -- are clearly having the time of their lives, and the audience is out of their minds with the ecstatic enthusiasm reserved for being in the presence of gods such as these players.
OK, the audience. It should be mentioned that UNC did not admit nonwhite students in 1954, a fact that is mentioned in the interview that ends this tape. There are no people of color in the crowd, which is composed of all students from the university.
This 64-year-old recording dates directly from the weeks when the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case was before the Supreme Court, but part of what makes it so fantastic as a document is that when you hear these white kids scream their brains out with love for Pops, you can intuit that diversity and inclusion are eventually gonna win, and hatred is gonna lose. Eventually. Still kinda waiting on that though, America. Anytime you're ready.
Anyway the formatively titanic Mr. Satchel Mouth here is 117, and although he is gone from us physically for almost 50 years, stunning and sometimes hidden tapes like this one showcase why he still looms, smiling that smile, over this wonderful world decades after his departure from this plane.
So yes, this set is dusted off and semi-optimized by me for your auditory effusion... definitely the right kind of thing for a 400th post to this page, I'd have to insist you agree.
Louis Armstrong
Memorial Hall
University of North Carolina 
Chapel Hill, NC
5.8.1954

CD1
01 band introductions
02 Sleepytime Down South
03 Back Home Again In Indiana
04 A Kiss to Build a Dream On
05 The Bucket's Got a Hole In It
06 Blueberry Hill
07 Tin Roof Blues
08 Struttin' with Some Barbecue
09 S'Wonderful
10 All the Things You Are
11 The Man I Love
12 Margie
13 Big Mama's Back In Town/Love That Man

CD2
01 Baby, It's Cold Outside
02 Stompin' At the Savoy/set 1 outro/set 2 intro
03 A New Orleans Funeral
04 C'est Si Bon
05 Up the Lazy River
06 Shadrack/When the Saints Go Marching In
07 High Society
08 Pennies from Heaven
09 Dumb Dumb Dummy
10 interview w/Louis Armstrong

Total time: 1:55:50

Louis Armstrong - trumpet, vocals
Kenny John - drums
Billy Kyle - piano
Arvell Shaw - bass
Trummy Young - trombone, vocals
Barney Bigard - clarinet, vocals
Velma Middleton - vocals

professional reel recording of unknown origin,
probably with stage mics and possibly taped for an unaired radio broadcast
remastered by EN
744 MB FLAC here
Like I was intimating earlier, I did very little to this mysteriously sourced (yet very well done) early bootleg from the annals of times gone by.
This is one of those crazy tapes where the circumstances of its recording are almost entirely indeterminate and lost to time, but you listen to it and just thank Providence that whoever captured it did so in the first place, and in the relatively fine shape in which it has come down to us. 
Judging from the final segment where Pops sits down to be interviewed, this was recorded professionally -- or at least semi-professionally -- possibly for the UNC college radio station? It may never be known.
But since it's the man's 117th birthday today, I dusted it off and repaired a bunch of its more glaring issues.
I shall return with a whole boatload of postings that will be anything but august, but today is the day to acknowledge one of the figures of legend that made all the music we adore possible in the first place, born this very day long ago in New Orleans. This still-as-yet-officially-unissued evening at Pops' oughta mark the occasion (and that of my 400th post) right proper, yes? Yeah, you right.--J.
8.4.1901 - 7.6.1971