Here’s a great piece of archival footage that shows the only film ever taken of the legendary Louis Armstrong in the studio. This was during the 1959 recording of the album Satchmo Plays King Oliver and it shows Armstrong and his All Stars recording the master take of “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” as well as silent footage of them listening to the playback afterwards.
Also featured in the clip are Trummy Young (trombone), Peanuts Hucko (clarinet), Billy Kyle (piano), Mort Herbert (bass) and Danny Barcelona (drums). The original album was produced for Audio Fidelity Records by Sid Frey, who commissioned the film to be made.
The 33 minute film was discovered in a storage locker in 2012 and was brought to the Armstrong House Museum with help of Frey’s daughter, Andrea Bass. It’s amazing what you can find when doing some spring cleaning sometimes!
It’s very cool to look at some the gear that’s being used here during the recording. Armstrong is playing and singing into a Neumann SM2 stereo mic (although you can be pretty sure that the recording was in mono on just a single track), while Peanuts Hucko on clarinet is playing into a 251. Too bad we can’t see what’s being used on the other instruments. It’s also pretty cool to see a pair of Altec A7 Voice of the Theater speakers in the background that were probably used for studio playback.
Louis Armstrong is generally credited for ushering in the modern jazz age, so it’s very cool to be able to see this small part of history.