- Released: May 31, 1994
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Personnel: Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet); Jack Teagarden (vocals, trombone); Velma Middleton (vocals); Bobby Hackett (cornet); Trummy Young, Tyree Glenn (trombone); Edmond Hall, Barney Bigard, Peanuts Hucko, Buster Bailey (clarinet); Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon (piano); Arvell Shaw, Mort Herbert (bass); Barrett Deems, Danny Barcelona (drums).
Compilation producer: Didier C. Deutsch.
Recorded between 1955 and 1966. Includes liner notes by George Avakian.
This is part of Legacy's 16 MOST REQUESTED series.
Most of the tracks on this collection come from the mid-'50s, when Louis Armstrong was enjoying a boost in his half-century career. Part of his popularity stemmed from the success of "Mack the Knife," which sold more than a million copies and addressed the decidedly un-pop-song-like subject of a natty, stealthy killer. "Dig man--there goes Mack the Knife" Louis cheerfully states at the top.
Between his stinging, swinging trumpet stylings and his unexplainably perfect baritone voice, Armstrong possessed more expressivity than a busload of musicians. He also strode the line between art and entertainment like no one else. Many of the songs here were in his band's repertoire for decades. In addition to "Mack the Knife," highlights include an upbeat "All of Me," the dark and sad hues of "Black & Blue," the raucous "(Back Home Again In) Indiana," and the loose and comical "Back o'Town Blues," wherein other band members vocally chide and egg on their leader. Two charming duets with Velma Middleton are included and fine supportive playing throughout comes from the likes of Trummy Young and Arvell Shaw. While these are arguably not Armstrong's most important sides, this collection is an admirable showcase for jazz's most influential elder statesman.