Jack Teagarden (with Louis Armstrong): Stars Fell On Alabama


Stars Fell On Alabama


Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars


Satchmo At Symphony Hall (Decca/GRP 661)

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Louis Armstrong (trumpet), Jack Teagarden (trombone, vocals), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Dick Cary (piano), Arvell Shaw (bass), Sid Catlett (drums).

Composed by Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish.


Recorded: Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, November 30, 1947


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

By 1946, when Jack Teagarden resurrected his career with Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars, “Stars Fell On Alabama” had long been entrenched in the trombonist's repertoire. It was one of many features for Teagarden during his tenure in the Armstrong group.

The tune begins with his highly decorated trombone style, skillfully implying the melody while showing off his virtuosic technique. Teagarden weaves lines together with note values that aren't quite eighths, triplets or sixteenths, creating rhythmic tension which he resolves precisely at the end of each phrase. In the next chorus, he sings the melody in his deep, relaxed baritone. Teagarden's understated vocal style is a stark contrast to his adroit trombone playing. His intonation is excellent, and his reading conveys the restrained, nostalgic joy of the song's lyrics.

Also of note on this recording is Armstrong's work as Teagarden's temporary sideman. Even though it's his gig, Armstrong keeps the audience focused on Jack for the whole song, only complimenting him with well-placed interjections. He even lets Teagarden lead the brief, energetic buildup into his last chorus of trombone melody. Armstrong's only big moment comes at the very end of the song, when he leads the charge out of Teagarden's vocal into the last chord, which Teagarden smoothly punctuates with one last arpeggio.

Reviewer: Alex W. Rodriguez

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