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Craig's Music Club
Music Reviews

Jazz Music reviewed with a discerning ear.

Louis Armstrong, Ken Burns Jazz Collection: Louis Armstrong

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was known not only as one of the best trumpeters in jazz, but also one of the most powerful. When recording, he would often be placed in a different room from the rest of the band, else he would drown out their sound with his own.

Ken Burns Jazz Collection: Louis Armstrong contains tracks spanning his entire career, from backup work with King Oliver to his first tries at singing to his signature tunes "What a Wonderful World," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Hello Dolly," along with his unmistakable interpretations of such classics as "Blueberry Hill," "Mack the Knife," and "A Fine Romance" (a duet with Ella Fitzgerald).

The only thing missing that I would have appreciated is the song that introduced to the inimitable Armstrong style: "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans" (as performed over the opening credits of the Tim Reid groundbreaking sitcom "Frank's Place") but, as usual with Burns' work, this is a comprehensive and entertaining collection of the work of a jazz legend.

Eric Truffaz, The Walk of the Giant Turtle

To judge by their album The Walk of the Giant Turtle, the French jazz quartet led by trumpeter Eric Truffaz is putting out some of the best modern instrumental jazz today. Starting out with the two-part semi-dissonant "Scody," the band really kicks it into high gear with "King B," a track that some filmmaker is bound to latch onto as a hero theme, and which bassist Marcello Guiliani carries with his thundering fretwork.

Other highlights of the CD are "Flamingos," in which Truffaz is able to really let go and is given excellent note support by keyboardist Patrick Muller. "Next Door" is another foot-tapper that gives drummer Marc Erbetta his chance in the spotlight. But the band as a whole shines on this CD of fine compositions that any Blue Note fan will find blends in well with their current collection. I just kept thinking while I was listening to The Walk of the Giant Turtle that this is what Duke Ellington would have sounded like had he counted rock and roll among his influences.

(The CD also contains an enhanced portion featuring a fifteen minute short film--or "camera freestyle"--directed by Zag of the title track.)

  • ...more to come...