Album:The Real Ambassadors
When Dave Brubeck became popular in 1959, he could have dumbed down his music and be a pop music star. But instead he put together this very ambitious project The Real Ambassadors in 1961. It was the only time he recorded with Louis Armstrong and Summer Song was one of the highlights of the show. Brubeck and Armstrong did a lot of tours for the US State Department. So Brubeck and his wife Iola got together with Armstrong and his band to produce The Real Ambassadors. The band was a mix of Brubeck's usual band of bassist Gene Wright and drummer Joe Morello but not Paul Desmond and Armstrong's band including Trummy Young. Also appearing were Lambert, Hendricks & Ross who were very hot at the time and legendary jazz singer Carmen McRae. It's supposed to be a concept album about Armstrong and his band touring for the US State Department. Summer Song was first recorded as an instrumental on Brubeck's 1957 album Jazz Impressions of the USA. Iola Brubeck wrote the lyrics as she did for the whole show. Armstrong's singing of Summer Song was one of the highlights of the show. The album was recorded in the fall of 1961 and released in 1962. When the album was released on CD in 1994, Armstrong's name was bigger and above Brubeck's name on the cover. The only time The Real Ambassadors was performed live was at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival. There were TV cameras there but it wasn't filmed. It seems he didn't have the $750 needed to pay the camera crew. Brubeck always regretted that error. The show was never performed again as Lambert, Hendricks & Ross soon split up. And I don't think Brubeck and Armstrong ever recorded together again. Attempts to revive The Real Ambassadors on Broadway have been unsuccessful. The Real Ambassadors is an interesting slice of jazz history and worth checking out. Here's a video of Summer Song by Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong.