The Louis Armstrong Discography: The War Years (1942 - 1946)

The Louis Armstrong Discography: The War Years (1942 - 1946)

Coinciding with the onset of World War II, the American Federation of Musicians declared a recording strike, much to the irritation of FDR and the government. The strike lasted for years, with many suggesting that the musicians were aiding the war effort by not producing non-essential commercial product -- a myth that has grown with the decades. Joining his union brethren, Louis pretty much stayed out of studio work for the duration of World War II. Happily, however, many recordings have survived in the form of radio broadcast transcriptions and discs earmarked for distribution to the G.I.s overseas.

A fair number of these records and tapes have surfaced over the years and have been passed among collectors or released in limited numbers under obscure labels. Some are more commonly available, and many are now turning up on CD. Though clearly apart from Louis' major label oeuvre, they are generally spirited collections of material by a man who seemed to live only to perform.

Cabin In The Sky (film)
August 28, 1942: Los Angeles, CA

A few numbers for an MGM musical. Armstrong is credited as "The Trumpeter". "Ain't It The Truth" was cut from the film.

imdb.com

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #74 (Blue Network) (radio)
December 15, 1942: Unknown

Radio program sponsored by Coca Cola

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #83 (Blue Network) (radio)
December 25, 1942: Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia

Personnel

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #117 (Blue Network) (radio)
February 3, 1943: Unknown

Radio program sponsored by Coca Cola

AFRS Recording Sessions for Programs #16, #19, #21, #24, #25, #26, #49 and #58 (radio)
March - April 1943: NBC Studios, Los Angeles, CA

Although portions of the AFRS Jubilee programs were recorded in front of a live audience, most of the music was pre-recorded separately and then combined with spoken intros and canned audience sound to create programs that sounded live. Armstrong's contributions to the series probably came from these sessions. A handful of comedy skits were also probably recorded here, featuring Jack Benny, Ernie Whitman and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.

Personnel

AFRS "Downbeat" Programs #16 and #30 (radio)
Early 1943: Los Angeles, CA

Downbeat was a disk jockey program that included interviews, commercial recordings and recordings from other AFRS programs. Session dating and sourcing for these two programs is speculation by Willems.

Personnel

Jam Session (film)
April 23, 1943: Los Angeles, CA

Armstrong plays himself in this wartime excuse to feature a cavalcade of popular singers, bands and musicians.

imdb.com

Personnel

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #250 (Blue Network) / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #94 (radio)
July 8, 1943: Unknown Location

Coca Cola had sponsored the Spotlight Bands series since 1941. The AFRS began transcribing 15-minute versions of the Spotlight Bands series in March of 1943 onto 16" disks with no commercials.

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #284 (Blue Network) / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #128 (radio)
August 17, 1943: Naval Air Station, Dallas, TX

Personnel

Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #288 (Blue Network) / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #132 (radio)
August 21, 1943: New Orleans, LA

NBC Chamber Music Society Of Lower Basin Street (radio)
November 7, 1943: New York, NY

NBC Broadcast hosted by Milton Cross. Paul Laval orchestra personnel are speculative by Willems based on information from earlier broadcast.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #380 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #225 (radio)
December 8, 1943: Coliseum, Houston, Texas

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

NBC Chamber Music Society Of Lower Basin Street (radio)
January 16, 1944: New York, NY

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #416 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #261 (radio)
January 18, 1944: Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY

Partial broadcast of a concert by the Esquire (magazine) All Star Jazz Band. Only songs including Armstrong are listed.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #432 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #277 (radio)
February 5, 1944: Unknown Location

Broadcast transcription. Louis begins the year with a larger, almost entirely new big band.

Personnel

The Million Dollar Band (NBC) (radio)
March 18, 1944: Rockefeller Center, New York, NY

Live broadcast for NBC.

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #474 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #319 (radio)
March 25, 1944: Allis-Chalmers Company, Milwaukee, WI

Personnel

AFRS Command Performance #120 (radio)
April, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
May, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Recording session for the pre-recorded radio program. Jazz legend Dexter Gordon joins the Orchestra, until departing for Billy Eckstine's outfit in December, 1944.

AFRS One Night Stand #240 / #253 (radio)
May 19 - June 5, 1944: Trianon Ballroom, South Gate, CA

Broadcast transcriptions from multiple performances for two different programs.

Personnel

AFRS One Night Stand program #267 (radio)
May 23, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Broadcast transcription.

Atlantic City (film)
May, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Pops makes his first movie in two years, sharing the screen with the effervescent Dorothy Dandridge.

imdb.com

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #537 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #382 (radio)
June 7, 1944: Stockton Fields, CA

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
August, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Broadcast transcription recording of a live performance.

Pillow to Post (film)
August, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

imdb.com

Personnel

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
August 9, 1944: Los Angeles, CA

Louis and his band appear in a Decca recording studio for the first time since the musicians union ban began in 1942. Though the recording ban was coming to an end, these tracks still were not commercially released until many years later, when they became available on that new innovation, the LP record.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #599 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #444 (radio)
August 18, 1944: Fort Huachuca, AZ

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #620 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #465 (radio)
September 12, 1944: Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #641 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #486 (radio)
October 5, 1944: Tuskegee Air Base, Tuskegee, Alabama

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

ABC Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #658 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #503 (radio)
October 26, 1944: Texas

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel

V-Disc All-Star Jam Session
December 7, 1944: NBC Studios, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY

Enter the All-Stars - not precisely the group that would bring Armstrong back to the forefront of the jazz scene a few years later, but the general idea: a slimmed-down combo not far removed from the Hot Fives and Sevens of the Twenties. Two figures key to this transition appear on this V-Disc session: Jack Teagarden and Cozy Cole, future All-Stars.

Personnel

Louis Armstrong And The V-Disc All-Stars
December 7, 1944: NBC Studios, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY

Personnel

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
January 14, 1945: New York, NY

Personnel

ABC Broadcast / AFRS One Night Stand #489 (radio)
January 17, 1945: Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, LA

Broadcast transcription. ABC and AFRS had separate microphone setups and, thus, separate recordings. New Orleans trumpet legend Bunk Johnson, who had recently been plucked from retirement and given a new set of teeth, is a shadow of his former self briefly heard on Basin Street Blues.

Personnel

The 2nd Annual American Swing Festival - A Tribute to Fats Waller (radio)
February 11, 1945: New York, NY

WNEW broadcast. Only songs including Armstrong are listed.

Personnel

AFRS One Night Stand #540 (radio)
February 13 - 20, 1945: The New Zanzibar, New York, NY

The One Night Stand program was edited together from two separate broadcasts a week apart. One jazz legend replaces another as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis briefly replaces Dexter Gordon.

Personnel

AFRS Magic Carpet program #101 (radio)
August, 1945: Trianon Ballroom, South Gate, CA

Personnel uncertain.

Personnel

AFRS "Jubilee" Program #146 (radio)
September, 1945: Los Angeles, CA

Recording session for the pre-recorded AFRS program.

Personnel

AFRS "Jubilee" Program #146 (radio)
September, 1945: Los Angeles, CA

Personnel

AFRS "Jubilee" Program #146 (radio)
September, 1945: Los Angeles, CA

Personnel

MBS Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands #915 / AFRS Spotlight Bands program #762 (radio)
October 31, 1945: Geiger Field, Spokane, WA

Broadcast transcription.

Personnel