I always say, “good jazz is the best medicine¹.” Whenever I have an ache or pain, it always helps take the edge off, and when I’m feeling blue, a hot tune will really pep me up! Few records can do it better than this one, one of the great masterpieces from Louis Armstrong’s period with Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. With Armstrong in the mix, the band, also consisting of greats like Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, and Don Redman, was just about unbeatable.
Vocalion 14926 was recorded October 30, 1924 in New York and pressed in that red shellac. The always outstanding lineup of Henderson’s orchestra consists of Louis Armstrong, Elmer Chambers, and Howard Scott in the trumpet section, Charlie Green on trombone, Buster Bailey on clarinet, Don Redman on clarinet and alto sax, Coleman Hawkins on clarinet and tenor sax, Fletcher Henderson on piano, Charlie Dixon on banjo, Ralph Escudero on tuba, and Kaiser Marshall on drums. All band members pictured above play on this record.
“Words” is a fine tune with hot solos and just about everything you could desire in a jazz tune like this—I have no complaints—but it cannot begin to approach the masterpiece on the other side of the disc. (I still would recommend listening to this one too, though!)
Named not for the city in Denmark, but the tobacco in the States, the stomping “Copenhagen” is nothing if not a masterpiece. Probably my all-time favorite Fletcher Henderson recording. This is a take “B” of two existing takes, and they really get in the groove. Is this the greatest jazz record of all time? Maybe, maybe not, but it is up there. (In fact, I may be crucified by some for it, but I like this one better than the Wolverines recording with Bix Beiderbecke.)
¹ I am not a medical doctor (nor any other kind of doctor for that matter) and therefore not qualified to dispense medical advice.
Updated with improved audio on August 4, 2018.