The Decca reissue program (produced by Orrin Keepnews) has long been frustrating for completists, with incomplete sessions and previously unreleased music often being included on the same CD, forcing collectors to either skip music or duplicate many selections from previous issues. This CD, in contrast, is actually better than most of the sets for four of Louis Armstrong's 1938 recording dates are reissued (with the exception of the master take of "The Trumpet Player's Lament") in full plus two takes of "Got a Bran' New Suit" from 1935. Backed on all but the June 24, 1938 performances by the remnants of the Luis Russell Orchestra, Armstrong's trumpet playing is fairly basic while his vocalizing was entering its peak period. Most memorable are "I Double Dare You" (a near classic), "The Saints," and the remakes of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Ain't Misbehavin'," but even the lesser material has its strong moments. Although nothing significant is heard from trumpeter Red Allen or clarinetist Albert Nicholas, there are some fine spots by altoist Charlie Holmes, Bingie Madison on tenor, and particularly trombonist J.C. Higginbotham.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow