A wonderful collection of early Satchmo sides featuring several different Armstrong groups, LOUIS AND THE BIG BANDS is comprised of music recorded between 1928-1930. The album kicks off with nine groundbreaking tracks from Louis's 1929 Carroll Dickerson-directed band, seven of which are also included on Columbia's VOLUME V: LOUIS IN NEW YORK disc. The next six are by the 1930 version of the band, which features a completely different lineup and a somewhat more laid-back sound.
The remaining eight tracks of the 22 track disc come from his stint with pianist Luis Russell's band and are all prime Pops. On these later tracks, Louis begins the transformation from inspired trumpet soloist to complete popular music entertainer. His playing is wildly inventive and energetic, his singing scat-filled and irreverent, and his personality larger than life. Although not as obsessively detailed as the Columbia CDs which contain much of the same material (the album features no alternate takes and very little in the way of liner notes), LOUIS AND THE BIG BANDS serves as a fine overview of this dynamic period in Armstrong's career.