Lifestyle & Belief

Louis Armstrong's rare last trumpet recording released to the public


A picture taken in 1970 shows American Louis Armstrong (R), the jazz trumpeter whose melodic inventiveness established the central role of the improvising soloist in jazz, playing with French trumpeter Claude Luter.



One of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's last live trumpet recordings was released to the public for the first time on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The album "Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Satchmo at the National Press Club," was recorded when Armstrong performed at a 1971 awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, according to the album's press release. It was one of his last concerts before he died of heart and kidney trouble five months later. 

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Armstrong's performance that night has been released as a digital download and on CD by the non-profit Smithsonian Folkways recordings, in collaboration with The National Press Club and The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, BBC News reported. The download is priced at $9.99; the custom CD is $16.98. 

The recording features 11 of Armstrong's greatest hits such as "Hello Dolly" and "It's Alright with Me," as well as the musician's favorite Louisiana recipes, which were included in the original pressing's liner notes, according to the Smithsonian

"Looking back, the performance was Armstrong's goodbye in many ways," wrote the AP's Brett Zongker.

The album was the last recording made of the trumpet player performing live — his only later performances were short television appearances with Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson, according to the AP. 

"This is a great find," said jazz great Wynton Marsalis, a CBS News culture correspondent. "Not so much for the virtuosity of his playing, but for the joy of his presence at that age and at that stage of his life. I'd heard those songs many times. But that he could play with this type of energy and intensity with that amount of time off. It was shocking."

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300 limited release LPs on vinyl were copied for those in attendance, but were largely forgotten over the next 40 years, the AP reported. 

"There was just something kind of wrong about the idea that 300 people heard this record and heard the concert and then nobody heard it for 40 years," said William McCarren, the press club's director, who found one of the old records in the club's archive still wrapped in plastic, according to the AP. He then reached out to the Louis Armstrong Educational foundation to figure out how to release the album to a wider audience; the three organzations came to an agreement in late 2011, according to the press release. 

The album was among the five highest-selling jazz albums on iTunes and Amazon on Friday.