Louis Armstrong

The Okeh, Columbia & RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933

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Finding one's way through Louis Armstrong's discography can be more than a little daunting, though there have been admirable attempts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries by various labels to clean it up and present it authoritatively. Legacy's Okeh: Columbia & RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933, is a very fine example of this kind of effort. While focusing strictly on Armstrong's sides as a leader during this period, it brings together not only his Okeh recordings with the Hot Five, and Hot Seven, but goes further in collecting his earliest sides with Victor in 1932. The set itself is compact and handsome; each of these ten discs is given its own miniature replica LP sleeve. The individual discs are filled out with complete discographical information in the booklet with liner notes are by Ricky Riccardi, author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years. The contents of discs one through seven completely replicate those of the first seven volumes of the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, which were released between 1988 and 1993 and are now out of print. Discs one through three are dedicated to the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens in chronological order from 1925 to 1928. Disc four contains his sides alongside pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines in several groups in 1927 and 1928 and his earliest New York sides with his own orchestra (including his hit version of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" from the Broadway show Hot Chocolates). Discs five and six highlight the historic period of 1929 and 1930 when Armstrong recorded with larger and smaller groups in both New York and Los Angeles. His return to recording in Chicago is documented on discs seven and eight, while the final two album in the set chronicle his move to Victor in late 1932 with Chick Webb's and his own orchestras. Disc 10 contains some alternate takes and leftovers from the original 78 sessions (all of which have been collected and released in various places before). The box closes oddly, yet delightfully, with an out of sequence Los Angeles recording from 1930. It's a version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel No. 9," with the composer accompanied by Armstrong on trumpet and Lil Armstrong on piano.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:15
2
2:53
3
3:12
4
3:16
5
3:11
6
2:56
7
3:02
8
2:50
9
3:13
10
3:17
11 3:08
12
3:01
13
3:07
14
3:06
15
3:10
16
3:31

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:00
2
3:24
3
3:04
4
3:13
5
3:11
6
3:27
7
3:02
8
3:22
9
3:16
10
3:01
11
3:03
12
3:30
13
3:05
14
3:09
15
3:14
16
2:47

Track Listing - Disc 6

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:47
2
3:00
3
3:17
4
3:17
5 3:03
6 3:01
7 2:59
8 3:23
9
3:31
10
3:24
11 3:31
12
3:19
13 3:23
14
3:11
15 3:02
16
3:32
17
3:20
18
3:12
19
3:09
20
3:16
21
3:23
22
3:38
23
3:16

Track Listing - Disc 7

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:12
2 3:25
3
3:16
4
3:07
5
3:11
6
3:29
7
3:19
8
3:22
9
3:05
10
3:09
11
3:22
12
3:14
13 3:13
14
3:15
15
3:07
16
3:10
17 3:06
18
3:15

Track Listing - Disc 8

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:32
2 3:17
3 3:37
4 3:30
5
3:19
6 3:20
7
3:32
8 3:06
9 3:02
10 3:21
11 3:14
12
3:05
13
2:59
14
3:42
15
3:24
16 3:32
17
3:24

Track Listing - Disc 9

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:13
2
3:03
3
3:14
4
3:20
5 4:26
6
4:36
7 3:16
8 3:01
9
3:08
10
3:02
11 3:25
12 2:40
13
3:01
14
3:26
15 2:37
16 3:13
17
2:36
18
2:37

Track Listing - Disc 10

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:02
2 3:07
3
3:29
4
3:18
5 2:56
6
3:18
7
2:43
8
2:46
9
3:08
10 2:42
11
2:59
12
3:14
13
3:01
14
3:12
15
3:26
16
4:28
17 3:13
18
3:25
19
3:21
20 2:38
blue highlight denotes track pick