At the very beginning of Lost Songs, I shared a rare (and probably unreissued) live version of Louis Armstrong’s orchestra “The Hep Cat’s ball” recorded for a radio broadcast (still available here). Since 1919, the collection grew up nicely and it was time to share more.

The first ever Jazz festival happened in Nice, a city from the south of France, during the last week of February 1948. Its supervisor was Hughes Panassié, director of the Hot Club de France. The festival was then very “traditional jazz” oriented, and Louis Armstrong was headlining with his Hot Five (Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Earl Hines, Arvell Shaw and Sidney Catlett). The festival took place in the city’s Opera and in the municipal casino, and extracts of the live performances were broadcasted on French radio.
There is much to tell about the event, and among the anecdotes, it is during that week that Louis Armstrong heard the song “C’est si bon” for the first time, then sung by Suzy Delair. He liked it so much that he recorded it, with english lyrics, in June 1950. That recording became one of his major hits.

Source: Paris-Presse, Feb. 3, 1948.

The Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five shows of the 22nd, 24th, 26th and even the 28th of February were partially broadcasted, some people recorded them and had some records pressed, unofficially. The quantity of records pressed is not known but must have been very low in any case. I was lucky enough to come across nine 12″ records (the duration of the performances often exceed the time allowed on a 10″ record), featuring performances from the various concerts given that week (The dates written on the records is not always accurate), giving a nice and deep insight of what happened those nights. Those recordings have eventually been commercially released (not before 1975 though), but never by Decca, wich whom Armstrong was in contract at that time. Maybe because of the insufficient sound quality ? Indeed, the sound quality is pretty amateurish, but gives you a good hint of what people heard on the radio those nights. Records are time machines.
The records have been owned by a few other people, and you can see on the labels the several layers of marks and comments made by some of these record collectors. That is also part of these records’ history.

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five “Royal Garden Blues” live in Nice, Feb. 1948
Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five with Velma Middleton “Velma’s blues” live in Nice, Feb. 1948
Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five “On the sunny side of the street” live in Nice, Feb. 1948

According to the track list of the Frémeaux & Associés 3CD set, “Boogie Woogie on the St Louis Blues” has been recorded on the 22th of February.
“You Rascal You” is actually from the concert given at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, where the band played a few days later, on March 3rd.

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five “Boogie Woogie on the St Louis Blues” live in Nice, Feb. 1948
Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five “You Rascal You” live in Paris, March 1948

Other live performances have been available on record through various more “official” reissue brands. French Jazz Society walked in the path of the AFCDJ, by reissuing rare records but also live recordings made for radio broadcasts or during TV shows that wouldn’t have been released by major companies.

The following personnels are given according to Walter Bruyninckx from his Jazz Discography.
Panama Rag” : Louis Armstrong (tp,vcl) Earle Penney, Red Nichols, Bobby Guy (tp) Jack Teagarden (tb,vcl) Willard Spencer, Lou McGarity (tb) Paul Rosen, A.J. Cicerone, George Hall, Jack Mayhew, George Smith, Alex Massey (saxes) Buddy Cole (p) Perry Botkin, Ted Bergren (g) Jimmy Moore, Isadore Rosenbaum (b) Nick Fatool (d) Matty Matlock (cl) Joe Venuti (vln).

I can’t give you anything but love” : Louis Armstrong (tp,vcl) prob. pers. Ed Mullens, Williams “Chieftie” Scott, Thomas Grider, Robert Butler (tp) “Big Chief” Russell Moore, James Whitney, Al Moore (tb) Arthur Dennis, Amos Gordon (as) Lucky Thompson, Joe Garland (ts) John Sparrow (bar) Earl Mason (p) Elmer Warner (g) Arvell Shaw (b) Sidney Catlett (d).

Louis Armstrong and his orchestra “Panama Rag” live at the Bing Crosby Show, L.A., 03/1949
Louis Armstrong and his orchestra “I can’t give you anything but love” live in concert at Carnegie Hall, N.Y., 02/1947

For the following recordings, the orchestra was composed by Louis Armstrong (tp,vcl) Jack Teagarden (tb,vcl) Pee Wee Russell (cl) Earl Hines (p), Jack Lesberg (b) J.C. Heard (d), with the addition of Eddie Condon (g) on “Chinatown”.

Louis Armstrong and his orchestra “Some day you’ll be sorry” TV show, N.Y., 08/1949
Louis Armstrong and his orchestra “Chinatown, my Chinatown” TV show, N.Y., 08/1949

Last but not least, a jam session based on “I’m confessin’ that I love you”, recorded exclusively for V-Disc on december 1944.

Louis Armstrong & the V-Disc All-Stars “I’m confessin’ that I love you” rec. 12/1944, N.Y.

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