Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World"

Your Subtitle text
Young Louis


Louis Armstrong
Young Louis "The Side Man"

Decca Records

DL 79233
Decca Stereo

From the original vinyl LP

Young Louis “The Side Man”
(1924 – 1927)

Louis Armstrong

With Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Perry Bradford’s Jazz Phools
Johnny Dodds Black Bottom Stompers
Jimmy Bertrand’s Washboard Wizards
Lil’s Hot Shots and
Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra

Side One:

Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
1. Words (2:51)
Otis Spencer – Al Dubin – Al Tucker

2. When You Do What You Do (3:00)
Mitchell Parish – George Johnson
Arranged by Tony Franchini

Perry Bradford’s Jazz Phools
3. Lucy Long (2:35)
Perry Bradford

4. I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (If I Can’t Play The Lead) (2:35)
Percy Bradford
Vocal Chorus by Perry Bradford

Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra
5. Static Strut (2:48)
Jack Yellen – Phil Wail

6. Stomp Off, Let’s Go
Elmer Schoebel

Lil’s Hot Shots
7. Georgia Bo Bo (3:03)
Jo Trent – Thomas “Fats” Waller
Vocal Chorus by Louis Armstrong

8. Drop That Sack (2:48)
Louis Armstrong

Side Two:

Jimmy Bertrand’s Washboard Wizards
1. Easy Come, Easy Go Blues (2:34)
Roy Bergere

2. Blues Stampede (2:35)
Irving Mills

3. I’m Goin’ Huntin’ (2:57)
J.C. Johnson – Thomas “Fats” Waller

4. If You Wanna Be My Sugar Papa (You Gotta Be Sweet To Me) (2:34)
A. Wayne – Irving Mills – Bob Schaffer

Johnny Dodds Black Bottom Stompers
5. Weary Blues (2:45)
Artie Matthews

6. New Orleans Stomp
Lil Hardin – Louis Armstrong

7. Wild Man Blues
Louis Armstrong – Ferd “Jelly Roll” Morton

8. Melancholy (3:06
Marty Bloom – Walter Melrose

All selections ASCAP
Collator: Stanley Dance
Under Supervision of Milt Gabler
Collected from Decca Record Library



Howard Scott, Elmer Chambers, Louis Armstrong: Cornets
Charlie Green: Trombone
Buster Bailey: Clarinet and Soprano
Don Redman: Clarinet and Alto
Coleman Hawkins: Clarinet and Tenor
Fletcher Henderson: Piano
Charlie Dixon: Banjo
Bob Escudero: Tube
Kaiser Marshall: Drums
Side One -1, 30, October 1924, originally Vocalion 14926
Side One -2, 18, April 1925, originally Vocalion 15030

Louis Armstrong: Cornet
Charlie Green: Trombone
Buster Bailey: Clarinet
Don Redman: Alto
James P. Johnson: Piano
Kaiser Marshall: Drums
Perry Bradford: Vocal
New York, 2, November, 1925, originally Vocalion 15165

Louis Armstrong, James Tate: Trumpets
Fayette Williams: Trombone
Alvin Fernandez: Clarinet
Stump Evans: Alto and Baritone
Norval Morton: Tenor
Teddy Weatherford and another: Pianos
Frank Ethridge: Banjo
John Hare: Tuba
Jimmy Bertrand: Drums
Chicago, 28, May, 1926, originally Vocalion 1027

Louis Armstrong: Cornet and Vocal
Kid Ory: Trombone
Johnny Dodds: Clarinet
Lil Armstrong: Piano
Johnny St. Cyr: Banjo
Chicago, 28, May 1926, originally Vocalion 1037

Louis Armstrong: Cornet
Johnny Dodds: Clarinet
Jimmy Blythe: Piano
Jimmy Bertrand: Washboard and Blocks
Chicago, 21, April 1927, originally Vocalion 1100, Side Two -1 and -2; Vocalion 1099, Side Two -3 and 4.

Louis Armstrong: Cornet
Gerald Reeves: Trombone
Johnny Dodds: Clarinet
Barney Bigard: Tenor Saxophone
Earl Hines: Piano
Bud Scott: Banjo
Baby Dodds: Drums
Chicago, 27, April, 1927, originally Vocalion 15632, Side Two -5 and 6, Brunswick 3567, Side Two -7 and 8.

How do you describe a sideman when he’s a young man named Louis Armstrong? Certainly not in the conventional meaning of the term – as a workaday section band, laboring in the brasses, reeds or rhythm. Fletcher Henderson didn’t invite Mr. Armstrong, in New Orleans – where he first met him – to join his band because he was a superior technician or could read scores well. In his own words, after listening to young Louis fresh of the riverboats, “the power and imaginativeness of his horn immediately made me want him for my band.” (Though Louis didn’t accept the invitation then, he did later.) As to small group dates, that Louis often did to help out friends, the term “sideman” need not be taken too literally. (In such groups, before electrical replaced acoustical methods, band balance was achieved by the simple expedient of the engineer waving a man back form, or in towards, the recording apparatus (horn).) Perry Bradford quotes Louis (“Born With The Blues” Oak) as having described the rare, amusing (and musically interesting) “Jazz Phools” date as Louis’, and, in fact, he brought with him colleagues from the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. Possibly the most hilarious instance of Louis hiding in the ranks as sideman has to do with Lil’s Hot Shots. By that time, of course, Louis’ Hot Five was already on records, but on another label. This was the same group under another name. A story goes that Louis was called on the carpet and asked who played lead horn on the Lil’s Hot Shots date. “Gee, I don’t know,” Louis is said to have replied, “but I won’t do it again.”

As described by Fletcher, Louis in 1924 was still “pretty much a down-home boy in the big city,” with high-laced shoes that the men like to kid him about. Louis took it good-naturedly and let the magic of his cornet do the important talking. When Fletcher brought him to an after-hours place in Harlem, Rex Stewart recalled, “the air was electric with whispers. ‘That’s Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong!’” But though beginning to be accepted, Luis was still learning, firming up his technique and finding his own personal expression. In these performances we listen in, as it were, to a style being born, to the “line” being extended and to a continually emerging beauty of tone. There’s sincere and direct musical thought, humor and deep humanity in his playing – clues to his ever widening popularity – and there’s freshness in it, even when the setting may be amusingly outdated, giving it the immediacy of living history.

After touring with King Oliver in 1924 – Buster Bailey was in that band, and Lil Hardin who’d recently become Lil Armstrong – Louis was briefly at Dreamland, playing first trumpet with Ollie Powers. It was then he got the second bid to work with Fletcher and, as noted, accepted, actually joining the band at a rehearsal hall in Harlem. “Your part’s up there,” Fletcher told him, indicating the third trumpet chair. “Well, you know how musicians are,” Louis commented, “especially in those days’ they didn’t say much, but everyone was lookin’ out the corners of their eyes…I was pretty stiff so they didn’t know whether I could play or not. After two weeks I still hadn’t even stretched. Then it happened one night at Roseland.” What happened was that, recommended by Louis, Buster Bailey joined the band and Louis unfroze: “So he comes in, and I kind of had company in the band, and that made a difference.” You hear this “difference” on Words as Louis takes off on his solo with a typically exciting break, there’s a touch of Hawk’s swinging, hard-hitting tenor and, having its impact on the developing Fletcher Henderson sound, Louis’ hot horn riding herd on the ensemble. What happens to When You Do What You Do – with its Charleston beat and, at one point, bunched-up reeds – is fascinating. You can almost hear the lyrics as the men belt out this whack-a-do period piece in the midst of which Louis takes a beautifully phrased solo. As Fletcher put it, Louis Armstrong made the band “swing-conscious.”

During his stay in New York Louis made numerous records, his fame – in the still insular world of jazz – growing with each one. The last of these (before returning to Chicago to join Lil’s band at Dreamland) was with Perry Bradford’s Jazz Phools. Perry, who sings the vocals, was an entertainer and both the folk-inspired Lucy Long and I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle, are reminiscent of Negro vaudeville of the time. Following a spot of Don’s alto on Lucy Long, Louis comes on with an attack comparable to that in some of his best work, and reaches out in an extension of phrasing. Between Louis’ two appearances, buster has an inspired solo. On the companion tune, the men are warmed up and the Hendersonians come close to really hot small group ensemble, Louis’ fiery solo being a high spot.

Though it was booming with jazz, bootleg booze and good times, Chicago in the 1920’s was often a tough and two-faced environment – South Side clubs were called “Black and Tan” and under “Remarks” on recording file cards there often occurred the word “Race.” Places varied from cheap joints with out-of-tune uprights to the Sunset, which at its peak had a dozen chorus, and a dozen showgirls, specialty acts and a 16-piece band. The Dreamland was in between these extremes. The nucleus of Lil’s band there was the Hot Five. “People lined up in the snow to hear us,” Kid Ory told Lester Koenig, “but they didn’t pay very well, and when Louis asked for more money for the band, they wouldn’t come across and so we left.” (Louis joined Erskine Tate, Ory went to Oliver, Johnny went to his own outfit at Kelly’s Stables, a gangster hang-out; St. Cyr to Charlie Cook’s band; Lil helping to set up recordings, etc.)

To an old-time collector, the Lil’s Hot Shot numbers will seem just as rough and good as when they first came out on white label Vocalion, with their own kind of compelling artistry. (Speaking of titles, often made up in the studio, Louis once said, “Take Drop That Sack – some cat’s stealing chickens… Georgia Bo Bo – that’s a dance that originated in Georgia.”) Louis’ opening solo the latter, moving and lyrical, displays a luscious tone and his shout vocal has a kind of plaintive undertone, like a blues. There is a deftly handled transition from Johnny Dodds’ fine solo into ensemble. (One notes also the improvisational handling of transitions elsewhere, as in the quartet numbers.) In addition to the extraordinary phrasing of Louis’ cornet toward the end, Drop That Sack includes the solid chorded sound of Lil’s piano and a solo by that most gifted of tailgaters, Kid Ory. On this and other tracks, stop-time is used in a variety of ways.

On the Hot Shots date, that followed the Erskine Tate on the same day and in the same studio, Louis was illustrating a type of vocal that he sang with Tate’s Orchestra at the Vendome Theatre. Of the performances by the latter included here, Weatherford’s somewhat Hines-like keyboard usage is heard best on the “tigerish” Stomp Off, Let’s Go, which also has an amusing spot with Bertrand dancing his drums – he was considered perhaps the top show drummer in Chicago at the time. On Static Strut we hear Stump Evans briefly on baritone sax. In the phrasing of his ensemble lead (last chorus), Louis, on trumpet, just about tops his own solo. (The Charleston beat’s here, too, as on various other tunes.) On Stomp Off, Let’s Go the band stop-times Louis’ solo and a heady ensemble gets even headier on the last chorus.

The unusual quartet performances – Jimmy Bertrand’s Washboard Wizards – are engaging, amusing and, at times, musically rewarding. Louis had worked the Bertrand in Tate’s Vendome Orchestra and Jimmy Blythe had worked with Johnny Dodds. Of special interest are the improvisational interchanges between Louis and Johnny Dodds. Dodd’s clarinet is in fine form, varying form fluid phrasing to flaring tonality – e.g., his low register variations backed by Louis’ obbligato (I’m Goin’ Huntin’). Blythe has a typically lyrical solo on Easy Come, Easy Go Blues and a carefully built one on I’m Goin’ Huntin’. Jimmy Bertrand – a born showman, even on records – gets a lot of fun out of washboard and woodblocks. On Easy Come the horns stop-time him, and on If You Wanna Be My Sugar Papa Louis’ horn comps his “dancing” style of percussion – much as it had the dance team of Brown & McGraw at Dreamland two years before: “…and every step they made, I put the notes to it.” High point of interest in the quartet tracks are various aspects of Louis’ emerging style – soft lyricism burgeoning on Blues Stampede, hitting each note on the button in what was to be a characteristic style (I’m Goin’ Huntin’), deliberate phrasing with a heavy charge of swing behind it (If You Wanna Be My Sugar Papa).

Vocalion 15632 by Johnny Dodds Black Bottom Stompers, coupling New Orleans Stomp and Artie Matthew’s Weary Blues, was a one time the rarest of all Johnny Dodds recordings. Weary Blues is notable for solos by Barney on tenor, Johnny and Earl, and Louis’ solo and ensemble work. New Orleans Stomp has a Chicagoan sound, Louis pushing the beat, the ensemble in a hurry. His playing towards the end is of special interest – swinging around, getting in corners – phrasing and rhythm superlative. Wild Man Blues and Melancholy (Louis and Jelly Roll Morton wrote the first one) are of course classics and indispensable to any self-respecting Armstrong collection. In addition to Louis’ great contribution, Johnny Dodds’ solo (Hines and Baby supporting him) on Wild Man is a very good example of his low register playing, and on Melancholy, on which Bigard has a ballad-like solo, there is the sure touch of Hines on piano, the tremolos and tonal clarity, his inimitable handling of swing and tempo, notes linking up structure. On Wild Man, taken at a slow tempo, Louis’ phrasing is memorable, the shaped tone like an incantation. When he brings things to a climax with a bit of “dirty” tone, the slow rhapsodic mood is still dominant.

Around the time of these last performances, Joe Glaser, who was Louis’ manager then and still is, made him the leader of the band at the Sunset Café. Louis Armstrong’s name went up in lights for the first time. He kept on blowing – and let Earl lead the band!

Charles Edward Smith

Acknowledgments: “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya” (Rinehart); “Jazzman” (Harcourt); The Record Changer, July-August, 1950 (NYC).



This unforgettable performance has been enhanced electronically for stereo listening. Only through this modern technique of enhancement can these recordings achieve the stereo characteristics necessary for modern stereo reproduction.

Enchanced for STEREO
For proper Stereo reproduction use RIAA equalization setting.

IMPORTANT! This Stereophonic Long Play 33-1/3 RPM record can be played only on phonographs engineered for Stereo reproduction. With a change to Stereo cartridge, it is possible to obtain adequate performance from many regular (monaural) phonographs. See your dealer or electronic serviceman for details.

“Decca”, Gold Label Series”, “New World of Sound” and “Harlequin Design” are registered trademarks.

DECCA RECORDS, A Division of MCA Inc., New York, N.Y., USA

Printed in U.S.A.


Website Builder