Louis Armstrong

Best of the Best

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It is ironic that the photograph used on the cover of this budget package shows Louis Armstrong as a young man, for all of the music included dates from late in life. And it's not really the "best," but merely the most commercially successful material. All listeners hear is Armstrong the aged pop singer, blowing his horn and chortling easy melodies for a public largely unaware of his remarkable position in the history of jazz. While all 11 tracks are friendly and relaxing, anyone even marginally familiar with Armstrong's 48-year recording career (particularly his dynamite sessions from the 1920s) might view this release as little more than a sad confirmation of the American public's ignorance of the depth and majesty of jazz in general. Louis Armstrong's discography is so rich and rewarding. There's so much more to him than "What a Wonderful World." A true "Best of the Best" would better-illustrate his evolution as a major force in the music of the 20th century.

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