Taken from sessions recorded in the late '30s and early '40s, this collection finds Armstrong in what is perhaps his last great phase, before the formation of his All-Stars and his reliance upon a strict repertoire of popular songs. While this period sees the maestro primarily tackling standards and radio hits--as opposed to his own material or favorites from the Okeh catalog--his musical personality and finesse are such that only the crankiest jazz purist could complain. The set opens with "I'm In The Mood For Love" and continues through 24 tracks that include such favorites as "I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," and "Pennies From Heaven" (with guest appearances by Frances Langford and Bing Crosby).
As always, Armstrong's rich, textured voice and inimitable delivery, all the more effective here for its understatement, steal the show. So does his searingly bright, virtuosic trumpet playing. As much a cross-section of the American songbook as it is an outstanding example of Armstrong's genius, LOUIS SINGS is an excellent collection for anyone interested in either.