Most music fans are fascinated by the recording process – just how are great records created? How does the magic of the studio translate into a much-loved album? And where does the unused material go after the release comes out? That’s what makes A Day With Satchmo such fascinating listening; it also makes it a recording of great historical importance.
It was a session for the Verve album, Ella and Louis Again that took place on July 31 /August 1, 1957 at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles. It is full of moments that will make you smile, but it’s also full of the minutia of the recording process. The session does not feature Ella Fitzgerald, but joining Louis Armstrong is the great pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, Ray Brown on bass, and drummer Louie Bellson. Together they run through numbers, make little errors, and talk over how to get the perfect take – while we get to eavesdrop on the whole affair. None of these songs – except “Indiana,” Satchmo’s warm-up routine – are numbers that Armstrong performed live with his All Stars. He was going into the studio cold and practicing them with Peterson and the other guys to get them right for recording.
Interestingly it says on the tape box August 1, but all available research says July 31 is when it started; they started in the evening and ran over to the next day.
A Day With Satchmo includes the final master takes, along with a few takes that have appeared on limited edition box sets and rare releases, but it also features music that has never appeared anywhere before. Louis Armstrong, the man who owned one of the first domestic tape recorders in America, would be proud to embrace the digital age with this unique celebration of great jazz.