For my first post on the one and only "Pops," I chose one his most inspired and impassioned performances from the banner year of 1965. Louis had been blowing strong right thru the early 60s, but through 1965 his chops seemed to be in peak form rivaling his great work of the mid and late 50s.
On his tour of the Czech Republic and Germany in March 1965, Louis had a chance to stay in one place for most of his concerts. He was constantly on the go during these tours. Often he hadn't had proper rest to perform at his usual high standard. But on the material recorded for disc and video in March'65, he plays like the Louis of old and then some.
"Black and Blue" by Pop's old pal, Fats Waller, is a tune he introduced in the "Hot Chocolates" show of 1929 and recorded that year. He performed it frequently with his All-Stars from 1947 on. The version on Columbia's "Satch plays Fats"(1955) is a classic in its own right.
The East Berlin version has Pops playing a very strong and sober lead, fully in command. His vocal is very heartfelt and sincere. He throws in some patented scat breaks, but this is a serious Louis giving his all on a tune so dear to him.
After the vocal Louis picks up his horn again for some nice variations on the theme, including a neat "I Cover the Waterfront" quote. His sound is huge and the very heart of jazz phrasing. Pops goes high for the last 8 bars, climbing up the scale to a huge high D, with that gorgeous Louis "shake" on the last note. Perfection and Classic Pops.
Although Louis would be seriously ill from late 1968 to 1969, he still had more surprises in his horn. We'll revisit some of these in the near future. This performance is on several CD issues and on a European video. All-Stars personnel is Tyree Glenn, trombone, Eddie Shu, clarinet, Billy Kyle, piano, Arvell Shaw, bass and Danny Barcelona, drums.
Wail on. Pops!