Louis Armstrong: West End Blues


West End Blues


Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: 1923-1934 (Sony/Legacy 57175)

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Louis Armstrong (trumpet, vocals), Fred Robinson (trombone), Jimmy Strong (clarinet), Earl Hines (piano), Mancy Carr (banjo), Zutty Singleton (drums).

Recorded: Chicago, June 28, 1928


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

"I felt," said trumpeter Max Kaminsky after hearing Louis Armstrong's leadoff cadenza, "as if I had stared into the sun's eye." He wasn't alone. Two weeks before, Louis's mentor Joe Oliver had waxed this tribute to a cherished venue along New Orleans' Lake Pontchartrain. Nobody was blinded. But when the King's heir apparent traded his trusty cornet—better suited to traditional ensemble jazz—for the more penetrating trumpet, 26-year-old Armstrong's clarion call set off a solar flare that dazzles to this day. By itself, either Earl Hines's piano solo or Louis's wordless vocal obbligato behind clarinetist Jimmy Strong would make this track memorable. The trumpeter makes it immortal.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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