Tuesday, February 21, 2006

awesome cornet

I can't always bike to work. Friday I had to go to the HMO lab for blood work in preparation for my annual health assessment next week. So I drove and listened to Louis Armstrong along the way. Homebound, I got to the Wild Man Blues cut. This has an awesome solo; so arresting that I backed up the tape to hear it four times.

Louis Armstrong is in that (all too big) class of cultural experiences that I dismissed when young because uncool -- appreciated by the wrong people. Armstrong, for example, was a favorite of the father of a close friend. The father also was passionate for Lawrence Welk; how could I like Armstrong? The association with the term "Dixieland" was also unfortunate: too much feel-good, too rigidly metronomical, too predictable.

Listen to the cornet solo on Wild Man Blues for petty much the opposite of all that.

Here are three MP3 files. The first is the shortest, just the part of the solo that caught my attention:

Highlights of cornet solo

The second is the entire cornet solo, about a minute and a half long:

And the third is the entire cut, all of Wild Man Blues.

It's mildly surprising to find that this is not considered Armstrong's best work of the period. The piece is credited to Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, but Armstrong said Jelly Roll had nothing to do with it.

Here are details of the session.

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven
May 7, 1927, Chicago
W.80848-C OKeh 8474
Louis Armstrong, cornet
John Thomas, trombone
Lil Hardin Armstrong, piano
Johnny St. Cyr, guitar
Pete Briggs, tuba
Baby Dodds, drums

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