Jimmie Rodgers & Louis Armstrong: Blue Yodel #9
Blue Yodel #9
Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Sony/Legacy 57175)
Composed by Jimmie Rodgers.
Recorded: Hollywood, July 16, 1930
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Can jazz and country music coexist? If these two divergent styles of music ever find a happily-ever-after relationship, they can look back nostalgically at this first serious date. Certainly there were sparks in the air when Louis Armstrong joined Jimmie Rodgers in a Hollywood recording studio back in 1930. Armstrong was then the most exciting trumpeter on the planet -- it's a shame his recordings from the early 1930s are not better known. Jimmie Rodgers was 32 years old and at the peak of his abilities, too -- his yodeling blues performance here is first rate; yet he would be dead less than three years later, a victim of tuberculosis. In a all-too-brief career, Rodgers would change American music and earn his reputation as "the Father of Country Music." But there is another 'Pops' on this date, and he surprises us on his solo. Instead of the pyrotechnics and high-note hi-jinks, characteristic of his work at this time, Armstrong digs back into a King Oliver bag, reminding us of his New Orleans mentor's classic "Dippermouth Blues" solo from 1923. How odd that one of Armstrong's truest evocations of the old New Orleans style would take place on a country music recording. Louis no doubt wanted to avoid a grandstanding solo that might usurp the spotlight from the singer. Yet this understated contribution still risks stealing the show. What a strange and beautiful moment in 20th-century music!
Reviewer: Ted Gioia