Louis Armstrong

1949-1950

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Diligently reissuing all of Louis Armstrong's recordings, the Classics Chronological Series opens this volume with six sides he waxed for the Decca label during September of 1949. The first two tracks are comforting romantic pop songs sung in front of an orchestra under the direction of Sy Oliver. Much more famous and ultimately among the most lucrative recordings Armstrong ever made, "That Lucky Old Sun" and "Blueberry Hill" had the singer backed by Gordon Jenkins' squarer-sounding big band augmented with a conventional angel cake choir. Then on September 30, 1949, Armstrong recorded with Sy Oliver's band again, this time in two duets with Billie Holiday, one of his greatest admirers. Note that "My Sweet Hunk o' Trash" and "You Can't Lose a Broken Heart" were both composed by James P. Johnson, king of Harlem stride piano. The next chapter in the Armstrong story consists of pure, unadulterated traditional jazz played by a new edition of his All-Stars. The nucleus of Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, and Arvell Shaw was greatly fortified by the presence of pianist Earl Hines and percussionist Cozy Cole. Seven of these titles were initially issued in two parts owing to the limitations of the 10" phonograph record. Happily, and thanks to careful editing, Classics now presents each selection as a continuous extended performance, most effectively in the case of the nearly nine-minute "Bugle Call Rag." Garnished with a laid-back "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" and a smokin' five-minute dash through "Panama," these are some of the best Armstrong jams of the early '50s.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:15
2 3:03
3 3:06
4 2:57
5 3:15
6 3:20
7 2:05
8 2:58
9 3:14
10 3:29
11 5:43
12 2:54
13 2:14
14 2:27
15 3:13
16 3:05
17 3:40
18 2:59
19 2:34
20 3:01
21 3:19
22 3:38
23 3:44
blue highlight denotes track pick