On July 4th, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Melody Maker staged a tribute to Louis Armstrong for his seventieth birthday.
Alex Welsh and the Band kicked off, and gave some typically excellent performances of a few Satch numbers, none more impressive than the swinging version of Muskrat Ramble performed by a Hot Five from within the Welsh ranks.
Beryl Bryden, that ebullient virtuoso of the chrome-plated washboard, contributed a good-humoured set, then the rhythm team provided a base for some dazzling pianistics from Lennie Felix. However, brilliant though he is, Mr. Felix didn’t impress me as much as did Fred Hunt, the lightness of whose touch always produces music which is a joy to hear.
The Wally Fawkes-John Chilton Feetwarmers played swingingly, with Mr. Fawkes producing a fat sound on soprano and guest Bruce Turner turning in some of the best solos of the evening. That great jazz musician George Chisholm played magnificently, offering one of the most beautiful versions of Stardust I’ve ever heard, before duetting with Roy Williams of the Welsh band in an exciting Tea For Two.
Humphrey Lyttelton, compere for most of the concert, emerged towards the end as the star of the show; deep in his Pops bag, he blew Struttin’ With Some Barbecue straight from the heart, then broke things up with a moving That’s My Home, accompanied only by Fred Hunt’s sensitive piano.
Apparently tapes of the show were to be sent to Louis without delay; if he digs them as much as we who were there, he’ll have a ball.