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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Decca

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An unusual album in the Louis Armstrong canon, this collection of gospel songs, spirituals, homilies, and comic vignettes was the only religious album this determinedly secular musician recorded. Backed by a gospel vocal group led by the celebrated jazz arranger Sy Oliver, Armstrong performs a variety of religious-themed favorites, including "Ezekiel Saw De Wheel," "Going to Shout All Over God's Heaven," and "Didn't it Rain," as well as "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from GUYS AND DOLLS. There's an affecting version of the traditional spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," and a particular highlight is the inclusion of two comic sermons by the musician's alter ego, Elder Eatmore. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 8, 2001 | Parlophone UK

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Geffen*

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Louis Armstrong's Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography was recorded as an oral memoir (with overdubbed background piano by Billy Kyle) combined with re-creations of many of his memorable recordings, as well as a few of the originals. Although such a project had the potential to become trite, the effort comes off very well indeed. This three-CD reissue has a few improvements as well. Almost every track that was previously edited to fit onto LPs has been restored to its original length. Louis Untermeyer's original liner notes have been augmented by excellent updated text by Joshua Berrett. And in spite of the warning about sound problems from using some deteriorated tapes and worn discs as source material, the audio experience is quite pleasing. While these re-creations aren't meant to take the place of Armstrong's historic recordings from earlier decades with King Oliver, Earl Hines, and other greats, they have stood the test of time rather well, except for the, at best, average vocals of Velma Middleton; Armstrong's furor with the suggestion that he omit the plump singer from his set during the 1957 Newport Festival is described in detail in Berrett's notes. While this collection isn't the initial purchase a neophyte jazz fan would pick up from Armstrong's immense catalog, his interesting narrative and the enjoyable renditions of tunes closely associated with him make this a very worthwhile purchase. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1984 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller only worked together twice, briefly in 1925 in Erskine Tate's band and four years later in the New York revue Connie's Hot Chocolates. But Waller made an indelible enough impression for Satchmo to record the tribute album Satch Plays Fats: The Music of Fats Waller in 1955, when such ideas were new. The nine tracks feature Armstrong ably supported by his All-Stars on such classics as "Honeysuckle Rose," "Squeeze Me," and "Ain't Misbehavin'." The mid-'50s was a fertile time for Armstrong, and this makes for a stellar package. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 28, 1997 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Originally out on a double LP, this is a definitive set of the Louis Armstrong All-Stars of 1956. The music and many of the solos will be familiar to longtime Armstrong fans, but whether it be "Struttin' with Some Barbecue," "Basin Street," or his then-new hit, "Mack the Knife," the spirit and enthusiasm of this music is irresistible. This is his best live set in the '50s. The CD reissue, a two-CD set, is slightly more complete than the two-fer LP in that it adds a version of Armstrong's theme song, "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," a closing "Saints" that allows Satch to introduce his band, and a straightforward rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 18, 1989 | Columbia Jazz Masterpieces

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It can easily be argued that Louis Armstrong was at his most advanced during the 1928 recordings that featured him with the Savoy Ballroom Five. Constantly challenged by the equally adventurous pianist Earl Hines, Armstrong is consistently remarkable throughout the 18 selections that are on this CD. First there are three tracks with big bands during 1927-1928 ("Chicago Breakdown," "Symphonic Raps," and "Savoyagers' Stomp") that also include Hines; then the chronology picks up where Vol. 3 left off. The startling "West End Blues" (with its classic trumpet cadenza) was always Armstrong's personal favorite recording, "Weather Bird" is a hair-raising duet with Hines, and other highlights include "Sugar Foot Strut," "Beau Koo Jack," and the earliest recorded versions of "Basin Street Blues" and "St. James Infirmary." Although the other musicians in the Savoy Ballroom Five (trombonist Fred Robinson, Jimmy Strong on clarinet and tenor, banjoist Mancy Cara, and, for some selections, Don Redman on clarinet and alto) is excellent, it is the interplay between Hines, drummer Zutty Singleton, and Satch that really makes the music classic. The first four volumes in this series are essential for all serious jazz collections. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Milestone

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Louis Armstrong's tenure as second cornetist to the great King Oliver is one of jazz history's legendary apprenticeships, on par with the one Miles Davis served with Charlie Parker or Stephane Grappelli's with Django Reinhardt. Sadly, only a handful of recordings survive from this formative period in Armstrong's career. This LP features 18 of King Oliver's 1923 recordings with Armstrong, as well as a bonus appendix consisting of seven tracks recorded in 1924 by the Red Onion Jazz Babies under Armstrong's sole leadership (and featuring, on one number, a very young Alberta Hunter). The performances are as red-hot as you'd expect, and include two King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton duets. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Satchmo Serenades was originally comprised of sessions recorded between 1949 and 1951. It's a pleasant collection of ballads and midtempo romantic tunes, highlighted by the instrumental sections where Armstrong glides with the lush arrangements. When Satchmo serenades, his voice is a little too rough and sly to be truly seductive, but it's nevertheless charming, and while this album is hardly a significant work in his catalog, it's still enjoyable for the Armstrong fan looking for mid-period ballads. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 2, 1993 | Legacy - Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
It took domestic Columbia until the late 1980s to finally start a program reissuing complete and in chronological order all of Louis Armstrong's earliest recordings as a leader -- only 60 years after the classic music was originally recorded. The series reached its seventh CD by 1992 but thus far an eighth and final album has not been compiled to complete the essential task of making Armstrong's greatest recordings available. Louis Armstrong Collection, Vol. 7 has 17 big-band selections from 1930-1931 (plus an alternate take of "You're Drivin' Me Crazy") and, even if the first six volumes are a bit more essential, this one contains plenty of gems. Lionel Hampton made his first recorded appearance on vibes during "Memories of You" and "Shine," and the other memorable selections include "Sweethearts on Parade," Armstrong's theme song "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You," "Lazy River," and "Chinatown, My Chinatown." Recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 24, 1989 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Louis Armstrong's 1925-1928 recordings with his Hot Fives and Hot Sevens belong in every serious jazz collection, even those owned by listeners who otherwise do not listen to music before bebop. Armstrong's remarkable trumpet solos of the 1920s were so advanced that they indirectly led the way not only toward swing but bop of 20 years later. On the third of seven CD volumes that have all of Louis' earliest records, Armstrong is featured with three separate groups. His Hot Seven (with the brilliant clarinetist Johnny Dodds, trombonist John Thomas, pianist Lil Armstrong, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, Pete Briggs on tuba, and drummer Baby Dodds) plays three numbers (including the humorous "That's When I'll Come Back to You"). There are nine of the greatest Hot Five performances (with Dodds, trombonist Kid Ory, Lil on piano, and St. Cyr), including a perfectly constructed Louis Armstrong solo on the original version of "Struttin' With Some Barbeque," "Once in a While," and exciting guest appearances by guitarist Lonnie Johnson on three numbers (most notably "Hotter Than That"). This set concludes in 1928 with Louis Armstrong's new recording group the Savoy Ballroom Five (a sextet with pianist Earl Hines, drummer Zutty Singleton, trombonist Fred Robinson, Jimmy Strong on clarinet and tenor, and banjoist Mancy Cara); their four songs include the initial version of Hines' "A Monday Date" and the tricky "Fireworks." Essential music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 22, 1991 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Twenty-three of Louis Armstrong's early big-band performances have been reissued complete and in chronological order on the sixth CD in this very valuable Columbia series. Armstrong, whose virtuosity and showmanship by the late 1920s could no longer be confined to a New Orleans jazz format, is heard supported by several different big bands (including Luis Russell's Orchestra) on these classic recordings. And while trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, clarinetist Albert Nicholas, and drummer Lionel Hampton are in the supporting cast, they are completely overshadowed by the leader. "St. Louis Blues," "Song of the Islands," "Dinah," "Tiger Rag," "I'm Confessin'," and "Body and Soul" are given memorable treatment, "Dear Old Southland" is a showcase in which Louis is backed just by pianist Buck Washington, and "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy" is a real tour de force. The latter piece has Armstrong forgetting the words in perfect rhyme and then scatting up a storm before constructing an absolutely perfect trumpet solo. Collectors will want to note that this CD has four previously unheard alternate takes including two of "St. Louis Blues." A gem. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 21, 1990 | Columbia Jazz Masterpieces

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The fifth in Columbia's extremely valuable series of vintage Louis Armstrong recordings features the immortal trumpeter-vocalist primarily on his 1929 big-band sides. Armstrong leads a jam session on "Knockin' a Jug," sits in backup groups accompanying singers Seger Ellis and Victoria Spivey, and is showcased on ten influential performances with either the Luis Russell Orchestra or the remnants of the Carroll Dickerson big band. These renditions of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Mahogany Hall Stomp," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Black and Blue," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Some of These Days," and "When You're Smiling" became quite famous during the period and helped lead the way toward the swing era. In addition to the non-vocal alternate takes of "Some of These Days" and "When You're Smiling," this CD releases for the first time two alternate versions of "After You've Gone." Timeless music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo

Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | RCA Bluebird

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Most of the music on this four-CD set from 1997 has been reissued many times, both on LP and CD, but this is the most "complete" set thus far. Louis Armstrong recorded for RCA during two separate times. During 1932-1933, he led an erratic (and under-rehearsed) big band on a series of numbers, but all of the selections have their moments of interest. Although not up to the level of his Hot Five and Seven recordings of five years earlier, these spirited tracks find Armstrong mostly in excellent form both instrumentally and vocally, and the reissue has four alternate takes never released before. Highlights include the two-part "Hits Medley," "That's My Home," "I've Got the World on a String," "There's a Cabin in the Pines," "Hustlin' and Bustlin' for Baby," a unique 1930 collaboration with country singer Jimmie Rodgers, and the two bizarre versions of "Laughin' Louis." The second half of the reissue features Armstrong during 1946-1947, including appearances with the Esquire poll winners (Louis takes a surprisingly modern solo on "Snafu"), the last titles by his big band, a few wonderful combo performances (including the classic "Jack-Armstrong Blues"), and the first songs by Armstrong's All-Stars (co-starring Jack Teagarden); this collection concludes with two unrelated 1956 orchestral tracks. Overall, this is wonderful music, although collectors who already have everything other than the alternates have a right to hesitate. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1968 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | GRP

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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, the All-Stars provide some heated improvising, especially Hines on "Honeysuckle Rose" and Bigard's clarinet solo on the otherwise knockabout version of "Just You, Just Me." To properly capture what a well-rounded performance this is, it should be heard in its entirety, exemplified by the out of print four-CD compilation The California Concerts, which included the complete Pasadena set and a gig at the Crescendo club in L.A. the following evening. Since this reissue is an exact reproduction of the 1951 Decca LP, the songs are not only out of sequence but numerous tracks are omitted. It's too bad Verve didn't simply reissue the entire concert, which would have been preferable over the lavish attention paid to reproducing the original packaging. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | GRP

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Not only was Louis Armstrong a major jazz star, but his fame as a popular entertainer was growing by the time these sessions were recorded for Decca between 1949 and 1954. Gordon Jenkins provides the arrangements and serves as conductor, although the jazz content is minimal and the music is plagued by the rather dated charts and a rather nauseating choir on over half of the tracks. Likewise, the strings (when present) are overbearing and haven't stood the test of time as well as Armstrong's warm vocals and still potent trumpet, though he isn't featured as a trumpeter all that much. His horn is the highlight of "Chloe," though the overbearing choir makes one long for Spike Jones' satirical version instead. The undisguised attack on bop, "The Whiffenpoof Song," falls flat in a bland easy listening arrangement, though Armstrong's spoof of Dizzy Gillespie's scat vocals is briefly amusing. "Spooks" doesn't stand a ghost of chance -- it's an attempt at vocal Halloween humor that deserved to be left in the vault. This release is not one of the high points of Louis Armstrong's career. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Decca

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This obscure set by Louis Armstrong has its strange appeal. The great trumpeter/vocalist performs a dozen songs, all of which have "heaven" or "angel" in their title or lyrics, while backed by the Sy Oliver Orchestra plus a heavenly female choir. Satch gets off a few good trumpet solos and is quite cheerful throughout, even joking during "The Prisoner's Song" when the word "angel" finally shows up. Among the highlights are "When Did You Leave Heaven," "I Married An Angel" and "I'll String Along With You." Although more commercial than Armstrong's usual recordings of the era, this set is more memorable than one would expect and is worth searching for. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve Reissues

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Pop - Released January 1, 2016 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released November 3, 2000 | Columbia - Legacy

In conjunction with the release of Ken Burns' ten-part, 19-hour epic PBS documentary Jazz, Columbia issued 22 single-disc compilations devoted to jazz's most significant artists, as well as a five-disc historical summary. Since the individual compilations attempt to present balanced overviews of each artist's career, tracks from multiple labels have thankfully been licensed where appropriate. Louis Armstrong is arguably the most important figure in jazz history -- he was jazz's first real virtuoso and first true improviser; he invented scat singing; and his gravelly, instantly recognizable voice and larger-than-life personality made him a crucial force in popularizing the music. Over the course of 25 tracks, this installment of Ken Burns Jazz traces Armstrong's career from his seminal early sides up through his pop hits of the '50s and early '60s. The set opens with selections from his recordings with the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, some of the most celebrated in jazz thanks to Armstrong's jubilant, impeccably constructed solos. His later pop material isn't as interesting to some jazz purists -- especially since it doesn't always emphasize his instrumental work -- but it went a long way toward cementing Armstrong's status as an icon among the general public and is full of his warmly ingratiating personality. Ken Burns Jazz features the best of the best from both distinct phases of Armstrong's career, and while there are more extensive (and cohesive) compilations of each, this makes for an extremely strong introduction to one of the greatest figures in American music. © Steve Huey /TiVo