These beautiful photographs of the first Louis Armstrong All-Stars onstage at Town Hall were taken by William P. Gottlieb, and will be included in Terry Teachout’s biography of Louis, now titled A Cluster of Sunlight: The Life of Louis Armstrong. And these images come from Terry’s blog, “About Last Night,” noted on my blogroll. From the left, that’s Dick Cary, Jack Teagarden, Louis, Bobby Hackett, Peanuts Hucko, Bob Haggart, and Sidney Catlett — a Condon-infused group of harmonious geniuses. Lest we forget, the concert was envisioned, produced, and financed by Ernest Anderson, Condon’s pal and co-producer of Eddie’s Town Hall concerts. At the top, we have the photo as cropped by Down Beat; at the bottom, Gottlieb’s original.
I’m printing them here because they may be new to some readers, and we all should admire the leader’s beautiful two-color shoes! The music of this concert — initially, only six songs released on Victor — is also the music of my childhood. The first Louis recording I fell in love with was the Decca 10″ he made with Gordon Jenkins (now issued on CD under the slightly dopey title SATCHMO IN STYLE with a cover shot that has a superimposed tiny bowler hat floating over his head . . . ?). By the time RCA Victor had issued a 12″ version of the Town Hall Concert, TOWN HALL CONCERT PLUS, I was a deep Louis acolyte — pre-pubescent, mind you — and I begged my father to order it through a “record club,” one of those mail-in enterprises where you could get four records for a dollar, then return the three you didn’t like and keep one. I don’t know what record my father wanted to hear for himself, but he must have seen true religious fervor on my face, and he ordered the Louis for me. It was one of his many generosities. I have the record still. It speaks to me on so many levels. About the larger photo: it seems a blasphemy to me to cut Big Sid off as this blogpost does. He was, you see, just too big for the room! Take heart, though, he is intact in Gottlieb’s original photograph, and yet another reason to buy Terry’s book when it appears.