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Louis Armstrong Vol IV with Earl Hines

Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Volume IV - Louis Armstrong And Earl Hines
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Audio CD, August 7, 1989
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Louis Armstrong Vol IV with Earl Hines

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Like the great pyramids at Giza or the works of Shakespeare and Bach, the music of Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines shines like some beacon of light blinking at us from beyond the veil, ancient and miraculous and inscrutable in its mastery and wisdom. The trumpeter from New Orleans and the pianist from Pittsburgh recognize in each other the mark of champions, and the pleasure they take in each other's instrumental sovereignty is apparent in all their inspirational improvisations from 1928. The sense of joy these adventurers share in their spontaneous flights of exploration and discovery on "West End Blues" and "Weather Bird (Rag)" remains undiminished. King Oliver's "Weather Bird (Rag)" is taken as an equestrian duet, the phrases echoing back and forth, veering off and intermingling, creating fresh new variations like alternating pulses of a single heartbeat, orchestral in their syncopated complexity, resolving into a rousing climax that is the essence of jazz. And in a collection shot through with classic performances such as "St. James Infirmary," "Tight Like This" and "Sugar Foot Strut," "West End Blues" remains the most memorable performance in the entire Armstrong lexicon. Beginning with the remarkable rhythmic phrasing of Armstrong's opening cadenza, proceeding through his initial reading of the theme, his poignant scat chorus and a stately Hines interlude, and culminating in the clarion call of the trumpeter's 16-beat sustained cry and epic blues phrases, this is a humbling performance--like Bird's "Ko-Ko," Trane's "Giant Steps," and Sonny Rollins' "Autumn Nocturne"--that other musicians must measure themselves against. --Chip Stern

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