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Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong Live in '59

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong is one of the only known complete Armstrong concerts from the 1950s to be captured on fi lm. This 55-minute set, fi lmed in Belgium in 1959, features many of SatchmoÂ’s greatest songs including Â"Mack The KnifeÂ", Â"When ItÂ’s Sleepy Time Down SouthÂ" and Â"StompinÂ’ At The Savoy,Â" backed by his stellar band the All-Stars, featuring Trummy Young, Peanuts Hucko, Billy Kyle, Danny Barcelona and Mort Herbert.

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The very existence of this hour-long concert, billed as perhaps the only complete Louis Armstrong show ever recorded on film, is a treat; the fact that Live in '59 is excellent both musically and technically makes it truly special. By the time of this Belgian gig, Armstrong was decades past the groundbreaking work that established him as the greatest and most influential instrumentalist and vocalist in jazz history. Yet he was still in fine form; then in his late fifties, he was playing a bit less and singing a little more, but his chops were in good shape, and his trumpet sound (described by Wynton Marsalis in the DVD liner notes as "big and open with a deep spiritual essence--a sound closest to the Angel Gabriel") remained inimitable. The band, with trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Michael "Peanuts" Hucko, pianist Billy Kyle, bass player Mort Herbert, and drummer Danny Barcelona, is at once tight and loose, enough at ease with the music to let it breathe on its own. As for the repertoire, it's a virtual primer on Dixieland and early jazz, including "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," the riotous "Hold That Tiger," "Now You Has Jazz" (with Young helping Satchmo recreate his duet with Bing Crosby in the film High Society), a tour de force rendition of "Stompin' at the Savoy," and two Armstrong standards, "Mack the Knife" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" (saucy, plus-sized vocalist Velma Middleton appears for a couple of numbers at the end, including an innuendo-laden "St. Louis Blues"). Typical of the Jazz Icons series, both audio and video are amazingly clean and clear. But perhaps best of all is the opportunity to witness Louis, his musicians, and the audience simply having a ball. In retrospect, Armstrong's mugging--the wide eyes, the parading around the stage, the constant shucking and jiving--led to accusations that he was pandering to his white audiences like some latter day minstrel, and many musicians subsequently adopted a too-cool-for-the-room stance in response. But "Pops" wasn't just a musician; he was an entertainer. "What you're there for," he once said, "is to please the people," and there's no doubt that Live in '59 will do exactly that. --Sam Graham

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Jazz Icons
  • DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006
  • Run Time: 55 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H9HWRS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,274 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I seldom write reviews for items on Amazon, but I felt compelled to do so in this instance as the only other reviewer of this DVD on Amazon at this time gave this disc only a four star rating. Fewer than five stars for this DVD seemed like a real injustice to me.

This is with no doubt the best Louis Armstrong concert DVD currently in print. There are a handful of documentaries, but, if you are looking for a concert, your only other choice is the 1962 Louis Armstrong performance with Eddie Condon and the Bobby Hackett Sextet. Although that DVD is also a classic, there are only 6 songs with Louis Armstrong appearing on them, and, by contrast, his performance is more subdued than in this 1959 concert.

In this concert, Louis is in his absolute prime, hitting a series of truly astounding notes, singing and scatting at his best, and performing with an ebullience that was unique only to Louis Armstrong in his prime. In one sequence he chases his trombone player around the piano in a phenomenal dueling horn solo. If you are a Louis Armstrong fan in the least, please do not debate buying this DVD... If you can spare the cost, simply buy it and be enriched by the brilliance of a true American master in his prime. There is good reason why the pioneering jazz masters were called America's classical musicians, on a par with Europe's classical masters, and this DVD provides ample proof of that claim.
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Format: DVD
Reelin' in The Years Productions presents "LOUIS ARMSTRONG:LIVE IN BELGIUM 1959", features the following -- Trumpet, Vocal : Louis Armstrong --Clarinet: Peanuts Hucko -- Trombone: Trummy Young -- Piano: Billy Kyle -- Bass: Mort Herbert -- Drums: Danny Barcelona -- Vocal: Velma Middleton --- The best there is from the Live World of Jazz with the greatest showman bringing what he does naturally -- play music with his heart and soul, we love you Pops.

Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong - Live in '59 (Track Listings)
1. When It's Sleepy Time Down South [3:19]
2. (Back Home Again In) Indiana [4:18]
3. Basin Street Blues [6:17]
4. Tiger Rag [3:23]
5. Now You Has Jazz [5:32]
6. Love Is Just Around the Corner [3:03]
7. C'est Si Bon [2:29]
8. Mack the Knife [3:01]
9. Stompin' at the Savoy [5:40]
10. St. Louis Blues [5:54]
11. Ko-Ko-Mo (I Love You So) [2:38]
12. When the Saints Go Marching In [4:00]
13. La Vie en Rose/Credits [3:19]

Features:
16-page booklet
Foreword by Wynton Marsalis
Liner notes by Rob Bowman
Cover photo by Herman Leonard
Booklet photos by Paul Hoeffler, Bob Willoughby, Susanne Schapowalow, Jamie Hodgson
Memorabilia collage

BIOS:
Louis Armstrong (aka: Louis Daniel Armstrong)
Nickname: Satchmo (diminutive of 'Satchel Mouth') and Pops
Date of Birth: 4 August 1901 - New Orleans, Louisiana (not for sure on the year)
Date of Death: 6 July 1971 - New York City, New York

Here are some known and unknown facts about our favorite Jazz trumpeter and band leader.

1. Pictured on a 32¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of American Music series, issued 1 September 1995.
2.
Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Although his style was relatively conservative, Louis Armstrong's position as a founding father of jazz, and as a world-class performer, is indisputable. Here he is, at peak form, playing his heart out in an hour-long late-1950s European concert, backed by a band that seems to take as much pleasure blowing the old-style New Orleans trad as Satchmo himself. The music is thematically static, but each song is so joyful, you hardly mind. Armstrong throws himself wholeheartedly into each melody and every note, and his enthusiasm, though obviously the product of intense professionalism, is irresistible. This is a wonderful look at one of the greatest showmen of the 20th Century. Recommended!
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Seeing only 5 star reviews here, I fear I must be the first dissenter to write a review. When viewing The Glenn Miller Story, The Five Pennies and High Society I find myself constantly pushing the volume during the Louis Armstrong segments. Thus, I really looked forward to this concert filmed around the same time as those features. I must say that I was disappointed. The infectious energy of his performances in those films is simply not there. First of all, although technically pretty good, the concert is filmed in black and white, not in color as the description states. Secondly, the performance seems to me to be not sincere. The playing is fine but it appears to be rote. "Sleepytime Down South", the opening number, drags at a slow pace and "Now You Has Jazz" is almost embarrassingly sloppy, to name just two instances. As for the dueling horns, it was done much better, and funnier in an old Red Nichols Soundie of years before. Although shorter in duration you would be MUCH better off with the Armstrong set in "Jazz on a Summer's Day", or, believe it or not, "Disneyland After Dark". They are both "volume pushers"!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
this is music. I like music. this is good music, so I like good music and subsequently bought it. I now listen to this good music. Satchmo is dead, however. He will not be producing anymore good music. He seems nice.
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