Louis Armstrong

World on a Swing

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Another installment in Hear Music's Opus Collection, World on a Swing covers the works of Louis Armstrong. The focus is primarily on his vocal work, though there are small runs of trumpet prowess displayed here and there. The songs here hail from up and down Louis' time line, but are centered to a good deal around the '40s and '50s, one of the prime periods for his pop singing work. The numbers presented aren't all standards by any means, but what will sell the album is the proliferation of numbers that are. "When the Saints Go Marching In" opens up the album, starting out with the classic New Orleans number. "Blueberry Hill" gives Armstrong's gravelly voice a nice stretch, and "Sweet Lorraine" matches it in ability. The irreplaceable "Mack the Knife" makes an appearance, as does "Makin' Whoopee," and duets with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan take the spotlight midway through the album with "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You" and "You Rascal You." After wandering through a number of other works both well-known and lesser-known, the album ends on a nice if somewhat flat version of "You Go to My Head," making the differences between Armstrong and Johnny Hartman clear to the listener. While the album does a fine job of showcasing Armstrong's immense vocal abilities and incredible delivery, the downside is that in doing so it glosses over his trumpet playing almost entirely. For fans of the master, the album makes a nice addition to the collection for the rarer numbers included, but be sure to pick up the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens first.

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