"LOUIS ARMSTRONG THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION"
Stunningly remastered (even the earliest cuts from 1938 are hiss free, full-bodied and remarkably clear), “Louis Armstrong: The Definitive Collection” includes a 16-page booklet with rare photos and detailed session liner notes. “Satchmo” was a prolific and multi-talented musician whom some consider the most iinfluential jazzman ever, and this 23-song set covers highlights of his legendary career.
This is an excellent album for someone who wants an easy-to-get-into education to jazz. It contains primarily Louis’ later hits, like “Hello, Dolly!” which knocked the Beatles off the top spot on the Billboard Top 100 list in 1964 and made Louis the oldest man ever to have a number one hit single! (Incidentally, his name is frequently mispronounced, but he himself established what he preferred to be called when he referred to his own name in “Hello, Dolly!” as “Loo-iss” and not “Loo-ee”!)
Interestingly, Mr. Armstrong lost part of his ability to play the trumpet as early as the 1930s, when his lip broke while touring Europe. But he adapted to the realities of losing his superhuman playing abilities by developing a more expressive style, and by concentrating on vocalization. Despite having a gravelly voice, it was pleasant on the ears, and became his trademark. This album documents well that second phase of his performing material.
One highlight is an absolutely irresistible “Gone Fishin’” which Louis does with Bing Crosby. (Just listen to Der Bingle scat in the background as Louis carries the lead at some points).
Mr. Armstrong performs “Blueberry Hill” to perfection and its arresting melody will linger in your mind. “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a whole lot of fun to hear, and the band that plays with him really plays beautifully. The CD also contains some superb earlier work, including a taste of Louis duetting with Ella Fitzgerald, accompanied by the great Oscar Peterson, and some terrific numbers like “I Want A Little Girl” from 1946. The album concludes with “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” a nice way to end the CD.
Considering that Louis Armstrong was one of the seminal players who practically invented jazz in the 1920s, and a key figure in the history of the 20th century popular culture whom everybody ought to know about, this album is a fun place to start.
To hear audio samples, click HERE.