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New Louis Armstrong, By Way Of Preservation Hall

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New Louis Armstrong, By Way Of Preservation Hall

New Louis Armstrong, By Way Of Preservation Hall

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This next Valentine goes out to Louis Armstrong. Thanks to some nimble engineering, Mr. Armstrong has a new song coming out, complete with a whole new band. So what he's been dead for nearly 40 years. Here he is singing that old chestnut, "Rockin Chair."

(Soundbite of song, "Rockin Chair")

Mr. LOUIS ARMSTRONG (Musician): (Singing) Old rockin' chair's got you, father, and your cane by your side.

THOMPKINS: That's the Preservations Hall Jazz Band playing backup. The song is on their latest CD which comes out on Fat Tuesday.

Earl Scioneaux III is the engineer who's going to explain this trick of time. He joins us from member station WWNO in New Orleans. Welcome.

Mr. EARL SCIONEAUX III (Recording Engineer) Hi. Thanks.

THOMPKINS: Louis Armstrong recorded "Rockin Chair" a number of times. It seemed like one of his favorite songs, right?

Mr. SCIONEAUX III: Yeah, there are a bunch of recordings of him doing it and several recordings of him doing it with Jack Teagarden as a duet, which is what these vocals came from.

THOMPKINS: Oh, good. So let's hear it.

(Soundbite of song, "Rockin Chair")

Mr. JACK TEAGARDEN (Musician): (Singing) Old rockin chair's got me.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Old rockin' chair got you, father.

Mr. TEAGARDEN: (Singing) Cane by my side.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: (Singing) And your cane by your side.

THOMPKINS: How old is this original version?

Mr. SCIONEAUX III: I think it was 1962.

THOMPKINS: This is fabulous recording, actually. It just sounds like you're actually sitting in a rocking chair with Louis Armstrong and the great trombonist Jack Teagarden.

Mr. SCIONEAUX III: Yeah, I mean those guys are really playing off of one another. And it's actually, if you listen closely, you can hear some audience laughter and stuff in the back. So it was a live recording.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: Now look here, father. You remember old Aunt Harriett, don't you? I know you remember.

Mr. TEAGARDEN: Yeah. Yeah, I knew her pretty well.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: I know you do.

Mr. TEAGARDEN: But not that well.

(Soundbite of laughter)

THOMPKINS: Tell me, you know, how did you manage your feat, which is teasing out the Louis Armstrong vocal and then sneaking in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band musicians?

Mr. SCIONEAUX III: We did it in a few different phases. The first one was to make sure that we enough of Louie's vocals that we could work with, and we went through and isolated all the snippets that were him. Then, what we did was brought the band in to record, got a tempo reference from the original recording so that it would be playing at about the same tempo and let them play the backing track.

(Soundbite of song, "Rockin Chair")

Mr.�ARMSTRONG: (Singing) That you can't get from this cabin. That you can't get from this cabin. No, you ain't goin nowhere.

THOMPKINS: Well, let me ask you this, now, who's on trumpet on your recording?

Mr.�SCIONEAUX III: That is Mark Braud. He is the trumpet player now for the Preservation Hall Band, has been for a few years now.

THOMPKINS: That's quite a burden of responsibility for Mr.�Braud, isn't it, to replicate an Armstrong horn?

Mr.�SCIONEAUX III: He was pretty diligent about it. He spent a lot of time listening to original recording and the solo that Louis played on that, not wanting to copy it verbatim, but wanted to really capture the same spirit. I think he did a good job with it.

THOMPKINS: When you hear a horn playing, can you immediately tell if it's Louis Armstrong who's playing it?

Mr.�SCIONEAUX III: I'd like to think so, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

THOMPKINS: What's the tell?

Mr.�SCIONEAUX III: It's like someone having an accent when they're speaking. You know, there's just slight little differences that you pick up on and you identify with that.

(Soundbite of song, "Rockin Chair")

THOMPKINS: Earl Scioneaux III engineered a new record for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band called "Preservation." It's out this Tuesday, and the proceeds will go to benefit Preservation Hall and its programs in New Orleans. Mr.�Scioneaux, thank you.

Mr.�SCIONEAUX: Thank you very much for having me on.

(Soundbite of song, "Rockin Chair")

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