The Louis Armstrong Discography: Pure Gold (1956 - 1963)

The Louis Armstrong Discography: Pure Gold (1956 - 1963)

Looking back, we can count ourselves blessed to have a handful of very bright moments preserved from a time when Armstrong's recording career was beginning to fade along with the place of jazz in American popular music.

In the midst of a continuing series of competent but largely uninspired recordings arranged by manager Joe Glaser (to Glaser's credit, Louis was also making the best money of his life), came the offer to record with Norman Granz of Verve Records. The result was a series of discs from 1956 and 1957 that stand with the best of Armstrong's massive catalog. Finally, Louis was teamed with musical peers of his own calibre in relaxed, swinging sessions that showcased his increasingly solid singing and mellow blowing. The sessions with Ella Fitzgerald still blaze with the glow of two topnotch masters; the two albums they shared are liberally peppered with classic renditions of some of Pops' greatest standards. The Oscar Peterson Trio provided all the backing these two needed, resulting in the cleanest sound of any of Louis' records. And, while Peterson was at hand, Louis took the opportunity to lay down numerous additional tracks that, again, are among his best. As the coup de gras, he was ingeniously -- and finally -- paired with Duke Ellington in 1961 for a smash album on the Roulette label; once more, Armstrong is at his best.

Meanwhile, amongst his Decca output came four lackluster LPs from the 1956 "Autobiography" sessions that were an attempt to recapture the spirit of his early recordings in preparation for a Louis Armstrong Story film that never materialized. Sadly, the tracks only show how remarkable the Verve/Roulette albums were in comparison... and how much brighter Armstrong could have shone in the golden years of his life.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
August 15, 1956: Los Angeles, CA

Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl, with Ella Fitzgerald and a superstar band.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
August 16, 1956: New York, NY

The session for the Ella And Louis album. A landmark moment in the careers of both Louis and Ella, backed up by the quartet of Oscar Peterson.

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Ford Star Jubilee - You're the Top (television)
October 6, 1956: Hollywood, CA

Louis partakes in a televised tribute to Cole Porter.

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Ed Sullivan Show (episode 10.8) (television)
November 11, 1956: Chicago, IL

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Louis Armstrong
December 11, 1956: New York, NY

This begins a year-long spurt of recording that results in a staggering number of albums and singles. This session is the first for the huge 4-LP project Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography, which consisted of recreations of most of Satch's career highlights, interspersed with spoken commentary. A second set of January sessions would be needed to finish it off.

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Louis Armstrong
December 12, 1956: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
December 12, 1956: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
December 13, 1956: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
December 14, 1956: New York, NY

As long as a group was assembled for recording, why not lay down some tracks for a new Louis Armstrong single? A real thematic shift of gears from the "Autobiography" project.

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Perry Como Show (NBC) (television)
December 29, 1956: New York, NY

Date is uncertain. Medley includes vocals by Como, Teresa Brewer and Red Buttons.

Louis Armstrong
January 23, 1957: New York, NY

A second set of sessions for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set, this time with the pared down All-Stars ensemble.

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Louis Armstrong
January 24, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 25, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 25, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 25, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 25, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Ed Sullivan Show (episode 10.19) (television)
January 27, 1957: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong
January 28, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 28, 1957: New York, NY

Another session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong
January 28, 1957: New York, NY

Final session for the Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography 4-LP set.

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Louis Armstrong With Sy Oliver's Orchestra
January 29, 1957: New York, NY

The thematically unified album became fashionable in the mid-50s (Sinatra's being prime examples). The "Louis and the Angels" album was yet another LP pushed through in a few short sessions, this with the odd theme of songs with "angels" in the title or lyric. A surprisingly good collection, though even Louis has to admit the inclusion of "The Prisoner's Song" was a big stretch to make the cut.

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January 30, 1957, New York City

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
July 4, 1957: Newport, RI

The All-Stars appear at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Ed Sullivan Show (episode 10.41) (television)
July 7, 1957: New York, NY

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Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
July 23, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Session for the Ella And Louis Again album, a followup to the successful LP pairing of the previous year.

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Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
July 31, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Recorded for the Ella collaboration, now available on the Oscar Peterson collection.

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Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
August 13, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Another session for the Ella And Louis Again album

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Louis Armstrong with Russell Garcia and Orchestra
August 14 - 16, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Sessions for the Louis Under the Stars and I've Got The World On A String albums. Discographers disagree if these recordings were all made in one day, or more realistically, spread over three days from August 14-16. Regardless, it's a tremendous effort, yielding some memorable Armstrong tracks. The 2-CD set on Verve includes the many outtakes and rehearsals listed above.

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Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald with Russell Garcia and Orchestra
August 18-19, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Another fine Ella/Louis project, produced at an ideal time in these giants' careers, this time with songs from Gershwin's operaPorgy and Bess Additional tracks were recorded without Louis' participation: "Overture", "I Wants to Stay Here", "My Man's Gone Now", "Buzzard Song", "What You Want Wid Bess?", and "Oh Doctor Jesus". An additional session took place in October to finish off the album, including a re-take of "Bess, Oh Where's My Bess?"

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Satchmo the Great (film)
September 5, 1957

New York premier of a program hosted by Edward R. Murrow (originally on CBS) that documents Armstrong's trip to West Africa. Armstrong is treated like a king and is featured in a number of live musical performances with the All Stars for huge audiences. Despite a vaguely propagandistic quality, this is arguably one of the best video records of Armstrong.

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DuPont Show of the Month: Crecendo (television)
September 29, 1957: New York, NY

Featuring an unlikely duet with Rex Harrison.

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The Ford Edsel Show (television)
October 13, 1957: New York, NY

Familiar ground, shared with Crosby, Sinatra and Clooney.

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Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald with Russell Garcia and Orchestra
October 14, 1957: Los Angeles

The wrapup session for the Porgy and Bess album, started back in August.

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Louis Armstrong and The Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One
October 14, 1957: Los Angeles, CA

Session for the Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson album. Combined with the tracks of July 31, one of the most satisfying of Armstrong albums -- relaxed, mature, and impossibly rich.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October 16, 1957: Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

A concert for the National Tuberculosis Association -- doubtful, though, that Armstrong and crew refrained from smoking for the day.

Timex All-Star Show #1 (television)
December 30, 1957: New York, NY

First of four programs, featuring a liberal portion of Pops. Along with the All Stars, he performs with fellow traveler Jack Teagarden as well as Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, June Christy and Dave Brubeck.

Louis Armstrong with Sy Oliver's Orchestra
February 4, 1958: New York, NY

The first of three sessions for a well-meaning, albeit white-bread collection of gospel numbers,Louis and the Good Book, uplifted as always by the sheer power of Armstrong's vocals. Once again, the Sy Oliver "Orchestra" looks an awful lot like the All Stars.

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Louis Armstrong with Sy Oliver's Orchestra
February 6, 1958: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong with Sy Oliver's Orchestra
February 7, 1958: New York, NY

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Timex All-Star Show #2 (television)
April 30, 1958: New York, NY

Second of four programs, this time showcasing Pops with the likes of Jackson Teagarden, Cozy Cole, Gerry Mulligan, George Shearing, Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
May 8, 1958: Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NY

Steve Allen Show (episode 3.35) (television)
May 25, 1958: New York, NY

Pops appears on the variety show hosted by Allen, a huge jazz supporter in the 1950's. According to the Willems discography, he performs with Van Cliburn on piano -- what a performance that must have been!

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July 7, 1958: Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI

A set of appearances at Newport with the All Stars, Jack Teagarden, and the International Youth Band.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October 3, 1958: Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, CA

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October 8, 1958: Los Angeles, CA

The outtake (take 8) of "I Love Jazz" is available on Verve 543747-2. An edited version (without the vocal backing) on EMI MFP 6056.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October 8, 1958: Los Angeles, CA

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The Five Pennies (film)
October, 1958: Los Angeles, CA

Armstrong appears as himself. Maudlin treacle from '50s Hollywood with a soundtrack of tired "Dixieland" cliches. Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing jazz. He forms the "Five Pennies" which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie's daughter, Dorothy, develops polio. Red quits the music business to move to Los Angeles where the climate is better for Dorothy. As Dorothy becomes a young teen, she learns of her father's musical past, and he is persuaded to open a small nightclub which is failing until some noted names from his past (including Armstrong) come to help out. (IMDB)

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The Beat Generation (film)
October, 1958: Los Angeles, CA

Appearance as himself. Reissued as This Rebel Age

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Timex All-Star Show #3 (television)
November 10, 1958: Miami, FL

Third of four programs, Louis brings his All Stars with him, and joins in with a host of pop stars, including Hoagy Carmichael, Jane Morgan, Anita O'Day and Bob Crosby. He also gets his jazz licks in with Krupa, Hampton and Chico Hamilton.

Timex All-Star Show #4 (television)
January 7, 1959: New York, NY

In this fourth and final instalment, Pops meets up with erstwhile Jackie Gleason; forges a monumental musical peace summit with Dizzy Gillespie; and joins in a mammoth jam of Perdido with the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Diz, Krupa, and Ellington and band.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
January 16, 1959: Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden

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Kaerlighedens Melodi (film)
January 26, 1959: Copenhagen, Denmark

Armstrong is credited as "Musician with orchestra".

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Live television broadcast (?) (television)
February 7, 1959: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Live television broadcast (?) (television)
February 15, 1959: Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany

Die Nacht vor der Premiere (film)
February 23, 1959: Hamburg, Germany

Appearance as himself.

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Auf Wiedersehen (film)
February 25, 1959: Berlin, Germany

German film appearance (?) listed in IMDB as being released in 1961. A.K.A. Drei gegen Amerika.

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RTB Telecast (television)
March, 1959: Ancienne Belgique, Antwerp, Belgium

This concert has been released on DVD by Hal Leonard: available from Amazon.com. This hour-long broadcast may be the only complete concert of Armstrong from the 1950s that is preserved on film. No cuts, no montages, start to finish concert.

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Louis Armstrong: Il Musichiere (television)
April 25, 1959: Rome, Italy

Eurovision TV show (television)
May 7, 1959: La Bussola, Focette, Italy

La Paloma (film)
May 20, 1959: Berlin, Germany

Credited as Sanger and himself in IMDB.

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The Ed Sullivan Show (television)
July 19, 1959: Spoleto, Italy

The All Stars -- without Louis, who had suffered a heart attack the day before, spurring rumors of his impending death. He flew back to the US on June 25, and this program was broadcast on July 19.

Louis Armstrong And The Dukes Of Dixieland
August 3, 1959: Oriental Theatre, Chicago, IL

The Dukes of Dixieland were an all-white band that was formed in New Orleans in the late 1940s and their exciting (albeit very Caucasian) style of performing traditional jazz and excellent management gained them a large national following in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They had been signed to Sidney Frey's small Audio Fidelity label in 1956 in part to demonstrate new stereo recording techniques (the second side of their debut album contained railroad sound effects).

Louis performed briefly with the Dukes during the Timex television programs earlier in the year and a recording seemed to be a natural follow-up. Frey paid Armstrong a whopping (for the time) $40,000 for two albums, an album with the All-Stars and this album with the Dukes. Armstrong would record another album with the Dukes the following year.

The album has been released on CD as Blue Moon 3071. The alternate tracks, including the final three, saw LP release on the Chiaroscuro label, but for the most part haven't found their way to CD, which is probably okay.

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August 9, 1959: Playboy Jazz Festival, Chicago, IL

The Ed Sullivan Show (episode 13.1) (television)
September 20, 1959: Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

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The Bing Crosby Oldsmobile Show (television)
September 29, 1959: Los Angeles, CA

Long time no see, as Louis guests on Bing's show. He's joined by Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 30-October 2, 1959: Los Angeles, CA

The Satchmo Plays King Oliver album. An effort to repeat the success of the earlier tribute albums to W.C. Handy and Fats Waller. Alternate takes came out on Chiaroscuro CR2002 vinyl release. "Snake Rag" and "New Orleans Stomp" were left off the original Audio Fidelity record, and included on the Chiaroscuro collection. Everything was included in a later digital release.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October, 1959: Kessler Air Force Base, Biloxi, MS

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Louis Armstrong
December 8, 1959: Unknown location

6" advertising disk by Audiovision/Columbia that was included in the December 8, 1959 edition of Look magazine. Obviously, recorded at some point earlier in the year. Recorded for Remington Electric Shavers (They're "shaving" themselves for you). Never released on commercial LP or CD.

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Louis Armstrong
December 8, 1959: Unknown location

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Bell Telephone Hour (NBC) (television)
January 1, 1960: New York, NY

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Dateline Boston - The Jazz Scene (television)
May 4, 1960: Boston, Massachusetts

WHDH-TV broadcast

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Louis Armstrong and the Dukes of Dixieland
May 24-25, 1960, Webster Hall, New York City

This is the follow-up to a commercially successful partnership with the Dukes the previous year. While the Dukes' pastiche style can be cloying to the ears of purists, there is some value in Armstrong's only recorded performances of such standards as "Dixie", "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Limehouse Blues." The original album was released on Audio Fidelity as "Louie and the Dukes" (one of the few times you'll see Armstrong referred to on LP as "Louie"), and the alternates on Chiaroscuro CR 2003.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
June 3, 1960: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The first four songs were broadcast as a "World Jazz Series" program.

Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong
June 28-29, 1960: New York, NY

The Bing and Satchmo album. First released on CD in 2008 with subsequent availability on a number of labels.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
July 1, 1960: Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI

A 60th birthday celebration for Satch

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September, 1960: Oregon State Fair, Portland, OR

An Hour with Danny Kaye (CBS) (television)
September, 1960: Hollywood, CA

Aired October 30, 1960. Armstrong was touring Africa in October, 1960; this program was taped (in color) at some earlier date.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
October, 1960: Lusaka Racecourse, Rhodesia

Pops, on his 1960 African tour.

Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
November, 1960: Elisabethville, Katanga, Belgian Congo

Recording of a concert during Armstrong's trip to Africa sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

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Paris Blues (film)
December 14, 1960: Paris, France

Armstrong is Wild Man Moore in film with Ellington and a brace of French jazzmen. Recordings are a with a largely French big band. Solos were supposedly overdubbed later.

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Swinging at the Summit (television)
January 19, 1961: New York, NY

Louis with George Shearing, Kay Starr and Tony Bennett.

The Ed Sullivan Show (episode 14.21) (television)
March 5, 1961: New York, NY

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What About Linda? (television)
Sometime in 1961: Unknown location

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Discorama (television)
April 12, 1961: Unknown location

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Louis Armstrong And Duke Ellington
April 3-4, 1961: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong and the All Stars
June 30, 1961: Newport, RI

Jewel Brown replaced Velma Middleton as featured vocalist with the band in April. Middleton suffered a stroke while on tour with the band in Africa and passed away after a brief hospitalization. Glaser ordered the band to leave her in Africa, causing much consternation amongst the All Stars. Bigard was deeply insulted and would leave the group shortly thereafter.

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The Ed Sullivan Show (Episode 15.14) (television)
July 2, 1961: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 12, 1961: New York, NY

The first of three session for an extended work by Dave Brubeck for the album The Real Ambassadors. Call it what you will -- a jazz operetta or prototypical concept album -- it is a musical epic dedicated to the impact and influence of Louis Armstrong, not just as a musician, but as a twentieth century cultural icon. Far-reaching in depth, and impressively mature decades later.

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 13, 1961: New York, NY

The penultimate session forThe Real Ambassadorsalbum. Other tracks, not featuring Louis as a performer, are "My One Bad Habit", "Summer Song" and "Easy as You Go" (with Carmen McRae on vocals), and "Blow Satchmo" (with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, vocals). Several tracks were not part of the original vinyl release, but were included in the later CD package: "Lonesome", "Nomad", You Swing Baby", "Summer Song" (with Carmen McRae's vocal), and "Easy as You Go".

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 19, 1961: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 19, 1961: New York, NY

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
September 19, 1961: New York, NY

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WRCV Broadcast (radio)
September, 1961: Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, PA

Disneyland After Dark (television)
September 30, 1961: Anaheim, CA

First broadcast April 15, 1962.

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The Ed Sullivan Show (episodes 15.4 and 15.5) (television)
October, 1961: Sportopalast, Berlin, Germany

Performance for an audience of soldiers taped by a German camera team. Four songs broadcast on October 8, 1961 and three songs broadcast the following week on October 15, 1961.

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The Ed Sullivan Show (episode 15.14) (television)
December 17, 1961: New York, NY

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Winter Carnival at Sun Valley (ABC) (television)
January, 1962: New York, NY

Show telecast on February 23, 1962 from Sun Valley, ID, but Armstrong's performance was taped earlier in New York City.

Goodyear Jazz Concert (television)
April 2, 1962: New York, NY

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The Satchmo Story - Vol. 1 (television)
May 15, 1962: Munich, Germany

Telecast on German TV on October 3, 1962

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The Satchmo Story - Vol. 2 (television)
May 15, 1962: Munich, Germany

Telecast on German TV on October 11, 1962

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Louis Armstrong and The All Stars
August 1, 1962: Chicago, IL

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The Ed Sullivan Show (Episode 16.13) (television)
December 23, 1962: Guantanamo Navy Base, Cuba

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All Star Parade of Bands (NBC) (radio)
January 1, 1963: Coconut Grove, Hotel Ambassador, Hollywood, CA

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Australian TV Broadcast (television)
March, 1963: Sydney, Australia

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The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS - Episode 16.13) (television)
June 23, 1962: New York, NY

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The Lively Ones (NBC) (television)
July 25, 1962: New York, NY

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Berlin-Melodie (television)
Sometime in 1963

German television appearance?

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Next: The Louis Armstrong Discography: Twilight (1963 - 1971)