By 1930 Louis Armstrong had become the world's most influential and widely emulated jazz musician. By 1940 he had been making records as a leader for 15 years and was equally at home with pop, swing and New Orleans-styled music. Living Era's Satchmo in the Forties combines a series of solid sides he cut during the spring of 1940 with some of his very best work from the postwar period 1946-1949. This excellent compilation includes a handful of Armstrong's big band sides, the master takes from his "reunion" date with Sidney Bechet and an invigorating strut played by Louis Armstrong & His Dixieland Seven. In the nonlinear time warp of tradition, Kid Ory's trombone resonates back to the very beginnings of jazz, even tapping into regions of human expression that predate the instrument's earliest manifestation as the 14th century "sackbut." Ory's rock-solid ensemble work and his gator-holler solo during the "Mahogany Hall Stomp" make this recording one of the great organically fomented episodes in all of recorded music. Armstrong is heard on this collection in the company of several sublime singers, including the honey-and-molasses-voiced Jack Teagarden. On "You Won't Be Satisfied," Ella Fitzgerald's elegant duet with Pops in front of Bob Haggart's orchestra presages the Armstrong/Fitzgerald collaborations that Norman Granz would preserve for posterity during the '50s. There is also a delightful visitation from the Mills Brothers, who back Armstrong using the catchy vocal arrangement of Irving Berlin's "Marie" commonly associated with Tommy Dorsey but originally devised and introduced by Steve Washington and the Sunset Royal Serenaders. The combination of voices on this track is pleasant and heartwarming. Billie Holiday is heard not in duet with Armstrong but on her own with a lovely version of "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" which was grafted onto Armstrong's take. This V-Disc back-to-back edit actually makes good sense as Lady Day invariably named Louis Armstrong as her primary influence. The producers at Living Era were wise to include a bit of Armstrong's February 1947 Carnegie Hall performance with the Edmond Hall Sextet, a sizeable portion of his All Stars' Town Hall concert of May 17, 1947, as well as a pair of live jams from New York's Winter Garden Theater and a festival in Nice, France lasting more than six minutes apiece. Flanked by Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden and Peanuts Hucko, Pops stretches out with a series of authentic old-timey jazz melodies. "That Lucky Old Sun" was recorded on September 6, 1949 as, backed with a sugary choir and orchestra led by George Jenkins, Louis Armstrong inaugurated the last twenty years of his long career as a venerated jazz trumpeter who became increasingly famous as a pop vocalist.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: The Mills Brothers
feat: Edmond Hall Sextet