This superior double album contains his final big-band swing recordings (and two songs from 1956), along with all of his Victor small-group sides (which led to the formation of his All-Stars). One can readily understand why he broke up his orchestra for, despite Armstrong's fine singing and playing, the extra horns by the mid-'40s were operating as a dead weight, anonymously backing him. In contrast, the small group inspired Armstrong to some of his finest playing in years (he builds a long magnificent solo on "Jack-Armstrong Blues") and trombonist/singer Jack Teagarden proved to be a perfect musical partner on tunes like "A Song Was Born" and "Rockin' Chair." Fortunately the combo recordings are now available in CD format on Pops: 1940's Small-Band Sides.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow