Louis Armstrong

What a Wonderful Christmas

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Although this Christmas compilation is credited to "Louis Armstrong & Friends," it's really more aptly categorized as a various artists anthology, since Armstrong only has six of the fourteen tracks. The disc is filled out with seasonal offerings by Dinah Washington, Mel Torme, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt, and Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, mostly from the 1950s. It's pleasant pop-jazz that doesn't rate among the highlights of any of these talented artists' careers. But it makes for an above-average Christmas disc, especially on Lionel Hampton's "Merry Christmas, Baby," Louis Armstrong's "Cool Yule," and Louis Jordan's "May Everyday Be Christmas," which celebrate the holiday with more gutsy hipness than the usual Yuletide fare.

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