Big Bill Bissonnette's Jazz Crusade label has struck it rich again with this release of rare Louis Armstrong performances, some of them released for the first time commercially in the U.S. The album is made up of performances from three different sessions. The first in 1938 is a WNEW radio broadcast in New York City. Among others in the group is Jack Teagarden, who provides a preview of coming events when he joined the Louis Armstrong All Stars ten years later. The second is from the Nice Jazz Festival in 1948. Regrettably, the quality of the sound is not up to the same standard as the other two, but is still acceptable. Finally there is a session from Basin Street East in 1956 with perhaps his most talented incarnation of the All Stars. He lets Edmond Hall take the lead on "Dardanella" with a clarinet that was as disciplined as Benny Goodman's, but much more earthy. One of the highlights of the album is Earl Hines doing his famous "Boogie on St. Louis Blues" with Armstrong inserting the well-known cry, "Father Hines." The 1938 session brings Armstrong and Fats Waller together. They vocalize and instrumentalize together on a couple of tunes, hitting off with a humorous "The Blues," where Teagarden gets a few measures in. There is both well-known and less-familiar material on this CD. Armstrong and Velma Middleton do their slightly blue version of "That's My Desire." One hears Armstrong sing the complete version of "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," instead of just humming a few bars as he generally did. And all through this the trumpet is in high-gear. The singing, the trumpet, the playing partners, and the infectious, happy personality of Armstrong make the material on this album a major find. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan