Nat Hentoff prefaced his 1956 down beat review of Verve's first Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong collaboration with a prediction: "Ella and Louis is one of the very, very few albums to have been issued in this era of the LP flood that is sure to endure for decades." Today, those sublime performances, along with two subsequent Norman Granz-produced Fitzgerald-Armstrong albums, are regarded as milestones of American music. A dozen gems from these works are presented here.
The Louis Armstrong Hot Five and Hot Seven Sessions were recorded between 1925 and 1928 by Louis Armstrong with his Hot Five and Hot Seven groups. According to the National Recording Registry, "Louis Armstrong was jazz's first great soloist and is among American music's most important and influential figures. These sessions, his solos in particular, set a standard musicians still strive to equal in their beauty and innovation." These recordings were added to the National Recording Registry in 2002, the first year of the institution's existence.
Satchmo at Pasadena provides an enjoyable but incomplete presentation of Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars recorded live on January 1, 1951. The Pasadena Civic Auditorium concert found Armstrong fronting an edition of the All-Stars with trombonist Jack Teagarden, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Earl Hines, bassist Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole on drums, and vocalist Velma Middleton on two tracks. At the time of this concert, musicians began to take advantage of the new LP format that allowed them to bypass the usual three-minute time constraints of 78 rpm and stretch out a bit. Armstrong was no exception, and even though Satchmo is more of the ringleader/vocalist/showman on this set…
This compilation contains selections from five different nightclub engagements; Bop City in New York in 1950, Club Hangover in San Francisco in 1952, Storyville in Boston in 1953, Basin Street in New York in 1955 and the Brant Inn in Ontario in 1958–featuring five different iterations of Armstrong's All Stars, featuring top sidemen such as Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Earl Fatha Hines, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole, Marty Napoleon, Milt Hinton, Barrett Deems, Edmond Hall and more. The exciting nightclub performances on this collection are not only being released for the first time, but every track is taken from the Research Collections of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, with the majority emanating from Armstrong's personal reel-to-reel tape collection. This important new release once again demonstrates with finality that Pops was always tops.