Louis Armstrong & Earl Hines: Weather Bird
Weather Bird (aka Weatherbird)
Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Sony/Legacy 57175)
Recorded: Chicago, December 5, 1928
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
This remake of the 1923 “Weather Bird Rag” startles by its freewheeling looseness and subtle restraint; the thrilling duo looks towards the future making much of scant instrumentation. Brilliant invention abounds as does the timbre of a well-knit ensemble. Hines evokes both rhythm section and a second horn, supplying trombone-like lead-in phrases (first strain) and motifs recalling Armstrong’s second-cornet work with King Oliver (second strain). Louis’ trumpet, rife with overtones, and Hines’ use of the middle register add aural depth, as does the slightly out-of-tune piano. Notice too the complex rubato of the 4-bar transition just before the third strain. Armstrong’s ascending finish brings to mind his trademark rallentando endings from the 1950s All Stars period. A landmark performance . . . but the record company execs may have thought “Weatherbird” too avant-garde as it was not issued until 1930.
Reviewer: David Sager