Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong

By Clark, John | IAJRC Journal, February 2008 | Go to article overview

Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong


Clark, John, IAJRC Journal


Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong

Bing & Louis - Havin' Fun

Storyville 103 8405 (2 CDs)

Collective personnel: Louis Armstrong (tpt/v), Jack Teagarden (tbn/v), Joe Venuti (vn), John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, including Nick Travis (tpt), Dick Taylor (vtbn), Matty Matlock (clt), Jack Cheney (ts), Buddy Cole, Mel Henke (p), Perry Botkin (g), James Moore, Phil Stephens (sb), Johnny Cyr, Nick Fatool (d), Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Tony Arden, Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires (v)

CD 1 Theme (Where The Blue Of The Night)/Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy/I'm Coming Virginia/Royal Garden Blues/Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?/Blueberry Hill/Lazy Bones/Undecided/I Get Ideas/Memphis Blues/Chesterfield Jingle/Kiss To Build A Dream On/On the Sunny Side Of The Street/Gone Fishin'/Up A Lazy River/Lazy Bones/Rockin' Chair TT: 62:49

CD 2 Theme (Where The Blue Of The Night)/Way Down Yonder In New Orleans/Song Was Born/Gone Fishin'/La Vie En Rose/Lazy Bones/Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?/My Honey's Lovin' Arms/You're Just In Love/Up A Lazy River/Panama/Nice Work If You Can Get It/Blueberry Hill/Rockin' Chair/Rockin' Chair TT: 56:31

Bing Crosby, after hearing Louis Armstrong play and sing On The Sunny Side Of The Street: "The fellow who wrote that melody - Jimmy McHugh - you just made him very happy. I don't know about the guy who wrote the words. . ."

The title "Havin' Fun" aptly sums up the atmosphere of these broadcasts. As generally relaxed and spontaneous as Crosby appeared under ordinary circumstances, it is clear that he truly enjoyed his interaction - both musical and verbal - with Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. While a certain amount of the repartee must have been scripted, some of it clearly wasn't, judging by the laughter of the principals.

This collection is drawn from the numerous guest appearances made by Louis Armstrong on Bing Crosby's radio show from 1949-1951. A Wednesday night fixture for CBS during that period, Crosby's show was among the first network programs to be prerecorded on magnetic tape (a technology in which he invested) and was sponsored by Chesterfield.

Multiple versions of several tunes are included here, aptly demonstrating that despite the casual atmosphere the details of the performances were carefully worked out in advance. Gone Fishin' contains quite a bit of interplay between Crosby and Armstrong before and during the musical part, but is repeated almost exactly in both performances. While three versions of Lazybones are listed, only two appear on this set, with the version from the January 25, 1950 show being used both for that broadcast as well as the one from March 16, 1949 (including Crosby's signoff thanking the guests on the later show). Why this happened I'm not sure, but I would assume it was an error in the mastering of this CD set. Nevertheless, the two extant Lazybones are virtually identical. One tune contained in this set which clearly involved a great deal of spontaneity is A Kiss To Build A Dream On. While we perhaps shouldn't completely believe Crosby's suggestion that Armstrong join him in an off the cuff duet, they obviously hadn't rehearsed it much and end up stepping all over each other and in the process convulsing themselves. The singers end the first chorus with a final flourish, but the orchestra continues, necessitating a quick discussion ending with Armstrong saying "Take the lead" to Crosby. …

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