Personnel: Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet); Trummy Young (vocals, trombone); Edmund Hall (clarinet); Billy Kyle (piano); Squire Gersh (bass); Barrett Deems (drums).
Recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island on July 4, 1957. Includes liner notes by Stanley Dance.
Digitally remastered by George Horn (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Recorded in 1957, exactly 11 months after the excellent live recordings that comprise THE GREAT CHICAGO CONCERT, MACK THE KNIFE is another fun show from the same band, the second version of Louis's "All Stars." The occasion of this recording was a special July 4th Newport Jazz Festival show in celebration of Satchmo's birthday. According to contemporary reports, however, the party took a strange turn when a pre-show argument over the concert's line-up somehow led to a buck naked Louis screaming at promoters in the middle of the backstage area.
If there were any lingering feelings of hostility when Pops hit the stage, though, they aren't noticeable here. In fact, the only thing out of the ordinary is Louis' playing, which is better than ever. Blowing like a man half his age, Armstrong's tone is clear as a bell, his phrasing dead-on and his energy seemingly boundless. The rest of the band follows suit admirably, with trombonist Trummy Young playing the consummate straight man to both Louis' jokes and his extraordinary trumpet chops. MACK THE KNIFE is a near-perfect example of Louis and the All Stars at their peak, and an immensely enjoyable record for serious jazzbos and casual listeners alike.