Louis Armstrong

The Essential Collection [Cleopatra]

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While this two-disc Cleopatra compilation is by no means a truly essential representation of jazz icon Louis Armstrong, it is nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Featuring tracks culled from various eras in the trumpet great's career, The Essential Collection delves heavily into the vocal tunes and early-'30s standards that have come to define Armstrong as the first great jazz innovator. Highlights include his scat version of "Stardust," "St. James Infirmary," and the classic "What a Wonderful World." A few more strategic additions to the track listing would have made this more definitive -- "West End Blues" and "Hello Dolly" come to mind. But in all fairness, when it comes to the "essential" Satchmo, what isn't?

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