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15 November 2021

The Real Ambassadors - new material issued

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Mosaic Records have issued a limited edition box set of Louis Armstrong's work including previously unissued material from "The Real Ambassadors" recording sessions. 

For full details click here.

Extract from Mosaic Records press release ©

Who’s’ The Real Ambassador

In September 1957, Louis Armstrong put his entire career on the line to speak out against injustice in Little Rock, Arkansas, disgusted by Governor Oval Faubus sending in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine African American students from integrating Little Rock Central High School. “The way they’re treating my people in the south, the government can go to hell,” Armstrong told reporters, making headlines around the world. No one else in the jazz world spoke up at that time but two figures were deeply moved by Armstrong’s courageous stance: Dave and Iola Brubeck.

The Brubecks immediately began writing what they envisioned as a lavish Broadway musical based around the notion that the “Jazz Ambassadors” the State Department was sending around the world were more important than the political ambassadors, even though many of those same musicians were fighting for their rights in their homeland. The work was originally titled World, Take a Holiday in 1959 and was written to star Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae and the vocal trio of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Unable to get their work off the ground on Broadway, Brubeck used his post-“Take Five” clout to have Columbia record selections from the score of their work, now titled The Real Ambassadors, in 1961.

Armstrong was 60 years old, still recovering from a heart attack, and had recently returned from a grueling State Department tour of Africa that found his mere presence enough to temporary halt a civil war in the Congo. With a lifetime of wisdom at his disposal and mortality now staring him in the eyes, Armstrong brought a gravitas to his work on The Real Ambassadors, whether summoning up deep nostalgia on the touching “Summer Song” or singing with tears in his eyes on “They Say I Look Like God.” The result was years ahead of its time, but both Brubeck and Armstrong remained especially proud of it until the end of their respective lives.

Mosaic Records Uncovers Hours of Bonus Material

While assembling this set, the producers were greeted by dozens of surprises on the original session tapes. Because Avakian relied so much on editing and splicing, his albums contained very few complete, unedited takes. This set will make up for that, with over three hours of bonus material, including unissued takes, rehearsals and even studio discussions, creating the most intimate portrait of Armstrong, the All Stars, and Avakian at work in the studios.

And as a tribute to Avakian, we are also including newly remastered transfers of the original albums in their original sequence, giving listeners the rare opportunity to hear the beloved master takes side-by-side with their unedited counterparts.

As with the 1950s material, Mosaic Records is thrilled to present over 75 minutes of material not found on the original album, including previously unissued alternate takes of each one of Armstrong’s features, including multiple takes of both “Summer Song” and “They Say I Look Like God,” two of the highpoints of not just the album, but Armstrong’s entire career.