Louis Armstrong

Jazz 'Round Midnight: Louis Armstrong

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A collection of songs by Louis Armstrong, recorded in the late '50s and early '60s. These are primarily vocal works, mostly pop tunes, with relatively little trumpet work (at least, of his trumpet heyday). Still, there's a reason that Armstrong was so successful commercially with his vocal pop, and that reason is that he's good at it. There's a little bit of sappiness when the Russ Garcia Orchestra joins in on half the tracks, with string sections dropping lush backgrounds into everything. Armstrong is at his best here on the tracks with a small supporting quartet (Ray Brown on bass, Oscar Peterson on piano, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Louie Bellson on drums). Also, there's one track wherein the New Orleans sound is recreated around Armstrong, though the band that accompanies him doesn't quite stand up to the old Hot Fives. Overall, it's a nice album, though there are certainly better ones available. For his greatest and most revolutionary work, the Hot Fives recordings can be used. For the pop tunes, it's not bad, though there are countless competitors at that end of the album sales spectrum. Pick it up for a quick (and cheap) overview but, more desirably, pass it up in favor of deeper digging into the Armstrong catalog.

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