Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars

Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars

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Don't let the budget price and generic packaging lead to the impression that Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars is a substandard release musically. Although the All-Stars are less heralded in comparison to the classic Hot Five or Hot Seven sides, this late-'40s return to his small-combo roots (five players, plus the requisite girl singer, Velma Middleton) was the last truly great jazz band Armstrong led before his move into orchestrated pop records in the '50s. Although the skimpy liner notes don't state where this show was recorded, the All-Stars lineup listed -- Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Big Sid Catlett, and Arvell Shaw -- only played together from February 1948 to May 1949. It's likely that this disc is a radio transcription from a series of shows Armstrong and the All-Stars played at Ciro's in Philadelphia June 2-12, 1948. (Actually, the last track, the first studio recording of this band's unofficial theme song "Jack Armstrong Blues," is from June 10, 1947, and features Jack Cary on piano.) Wherever the recording took place, the band sounds super tight, with Teagarden's sly trombone answering Armstrong's vocals and trumpet and Hines' barrelhouse piano driving the combo. Though it's a common perception that Armstrong lost his fire by the '40s, this set is a solid piece of old-fashioned small-combo jazz.

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