This 10-CD set is as good a compendium of the genius of Louis Armstrong as anyone could wish for. It’s all here: the early years with the King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson bands, the glorious period of the Hot Fives and Sevens, the big band recordings of the Thirties, the collaborations with contemporaries such as Ella Fitzgerald. Then there are the later recordings, when Satchmo’s celebrity empowered him to soar over many political and racial divides. There’s also a fascinating unreleased Hollywood Bowl concert from 1956, a CD of “out-takes” from recording sessions, and a revealing interview with Dan Morgenstern.
The 43 tracks that make up the first part of the The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 of Louis Armstrong are remarkable not only for the outstanding performances they reflect, but for the many settings Armstrong recorded in during the era. While none of this material will come as a surprise to collectors, those who are starting to check out Armstrong's post-New Orleans period would do themselves a favor in scoping this collection because the Decca years, even more so than his long tenure with Verve, showcase Armstrong at the pinnacle of American popular music, and that that music happens to be jazz is even more revelatory.
In 1970, Louis Armstrong went to the Newport Jazz Festival as a special guest to perform his own set, but also to be honored by friends and admirers on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Louis Armstrong: Good Evening Ev'rybody is a document of that event, a collection of interviews, backstage rehearsal footage, and performances. It's footage that had remained unreleased until now. The concert film is an amazing discovery, a surprising time capsule that needed to be unearthed.
This box set contains 300 tracks, digitally remastered and compiled over 15 discs. Includes all of Louis Armstrong's hits, hundreds of rarities and the complete discography.
Louis Armstrong didn't invent jazz, but he is the acknowledged father. From humble beginnings in the notorious Storyville district of New Orleans he rose from singing on street corners to playing with the top hot jazz musicians of the time. It is impossible to overstate Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's importance in jazz: he invented scat singing, he was the first black jazz-man to be welcomed in the upper-echelons of white society and his solos are still dissected and analyzed over 75 years after they were recorded.
A wonderful artifact, this is a prime slice of the latter-day Satchmo with a small all-stars band working through a relatively typical set. The performance ranges from solid to excellent, with the occasional odd flub (such as the uncertain return after Danny Barcelona's first drum solo on "Basin Street Blues"), but the quality of the recording is the key element. The Mobile Fidelity gold CD edition adds three tracks to the Storyville original, and provides a clear, uncluttered sound field with excellent separation. The resulting album is a treat to hear. ~ Steven McDonald, Rovi