Saturday, December 5, 2020

Louis Armstrong Cool Yule—Murfin ’s Carols for Corona and Winter Holiday Music Festival

                                            Louis Armstrong with The Commanders, Cool Yule.

Louis Armstrong was the acknowledged King of Jazz when he laid down the track Cool Yule with a studio all-star pick-up band called The Commanders in 1953,  He had been practically present since birth as a young cornet player in New Orleans and had come North to Chicago to play with the King Oliver Band at Al Capone speakeasies in the ‘20s then switched to trumpet to play with Fletcher Henderson. He fronted his own combos and even a Big Band for a while in the 30’s, became a radio star performing with pals like Bing Crosby and in the post-World War II era led the Esquire Jazz All-Stars at annual Carnegie Hall concerts.  In 1953 he was at the peak of his form.

Young Louis Armstrong with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra.

For the session the Commanders included arranger and conductor Toots Camarata; trumpeters  Billy Butterfield, Andy Ferretti, Carl Poole; trombonists Lou McGarity, Cutty Cutshall, Phil Giardina, and Jack Satterfield; trombonist; Alto and Baritone Sax player  Hymie Schertzer; Al Klink on tenor sax; pianist Bernie Leighton; guitarist Carmen Mastren;  bass player Sandy Block;  and drummer  Ed Grady.  Not as big names as Armstrong’s All-Stars, but an impressive list of solid session men.

Cool Yule was one of two Christmas songs recorded in the sessions.  The other and better known song was Benny Carter’s funky Christmas in New Orleans.  Cool Yule was written by Steve Allen.  It was later covered Bette Midler on her 2000 album of the same name and by The Brian Setzer Orchestra on their 2005 album Dig That Crazy Christmas.  The song was also featured in the 2001 film  Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.

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