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What happens when one of the giants of jazz decides to do his own interpretation of the Father of the Blues?
You get Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy, which has been described by jazz critic Scott Yanow as "Louis Armstrong's finest record of the 1950s and essential music for all serious jazz collections."
Blues composer and musician W.C. Handy (1873 - 1958) was widely recognized as the Father of the Blues - creating the 12-bar, Memphis-style blues. And he's still considered to be among American's most influential songwriters.
The W.C. Handy Award was widely regarded as the most prestigious honor for blues artists in the U.S. The name was changed in 2006 to the Blue Music Awards supposedly to help increase public appreciation of the significance of the awards. Huh?
And where does one start to talk about Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong?
It's so appropriate that he was born in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. An inventive coronet and trumpet player, Armstrong shifted jazz away from a focus on collective instrumental improvisation to solo performance. Also a singer - who doesn't instantly recognize that warm, gravely voice! - Armstrong introduced vocal improvisation and moved into that swingin' scat singing.
He was the first jazz musician to be be featured on the cover of TIME magazine. But his influence reached well beyond jazz, and by the end of his career in the late 60s, he had made a lasting impact on popular music.
Armstrong once said, "Musicians don't retire; they stop when there is no more music in them."
Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy is a 1954 studio release by Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, with all of the songs written by Handy. This 16-track CD reissue was remastered and released by Columbia /Legacy Records in 1997, and it includes additional tracks: a brief interview by the producer, George Avakian and W.C. Handy, a joke told by Louis Armstrong, and several rehearsal versions of the songs.
So now, imagine Satchmo channeling W.C. Handy with his own special twist, and you have one oh-yeah-head-nodding-toe-tapping-big-smile-on-your-face experience!
That's Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy, and it could be your very own!
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