Tribute To Louis Armstrong review, July 1, 2016…

THE SACKVILLE ALL-STARS

TRIBUTE TO LOUIS ARMSTRONG

SACKVILLE CD  2-3042

SONG OF THE ISLANDS–YOU RASCAL YOU–SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA–ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET–WILLIE THE WEEPER–I GOT A RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES–A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON–BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN–PENNIES FROM HEAVEN–KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW–SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE

The Sackville All-Stars Christmas album was one of our highlights from the winter of 2014.  As such, we couldn’t wait to give a listen to their “Tribute To Louis Armstrong,” for which we humbly thank Kevin Johnson and the good folks at Delmark for providing us a review copy.  These sessions came from 1988, and The All-Stars chose some material that was a bit more obscure from Satchmo, and draws from virtually every period of his storied career, with perhaps the earliest being his original “Big Butter And Egg Man,” from the Hot Five era.

The coolest and most unique thing about these sessions is that there is nary a trumpet to be heard!  Nope–everything is arranged for the sax stylings of Jim Galloway, with Ralph Sutton on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums.  These players were literally “household names” in the jazz world for many years with their own or other groups, and their versatility on these samples from Armstrong’s vast canon is superb.

Johnson’s speedy drumming drives the jumpin’ jive of “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, You Rascal You,” and again on the double-time tempo of the set-closing “Sweethearts On Parade,” with Jim’s sax leading the charge!  “Save It Pretty Mama” and “Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now” both follow a similar pattern.  On each one, Ralph kicks off with his signature stride piano licks before giving way to Jim’s sax to finish out the melody.

We had two favorites, too, each among some of Satchmo’s best-known works.  “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” begins with just sax and bass for a verse, before everyone joins the party.  “Pennies From Heaven” is beautifully done here, played in a slowed tempo.

Louis Armstrong was a world-wide ambassador for jazz with a vast catalogue.  The Sackville All-Stars tribute to this icon pulls from all aspects of his career, and these great players make this one quite an enjoyable listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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