, October 2007
Louis Armstrong burst on the jazz scene in the mid 1920s with a series of small group recordings—the Hot 5s and 7s—and was considered by many to eb the premier jazz trumpeter of the day.
By the time of these recordings (1940–41) he had developed from a hot jazz trumpeter to a popular entertainer, relying less on his powerhouse trumpet and more on his jovial personality, his charisma and his exuberant singing.
Almost half of this CD is of Armstrong supported by a 14-piece band playing a lot of novelty numbers (‘Cur off my legs and call me Shorty’, ‘Hep cats ball’, ‘I’ll be glad when you’re ded, you rascal, you’) and all but one feature the Armstrong voice as much as the Armstrong trumpet.
The supporting band has no outstanding players although there is an occasional jumping solo from tenor sax player Joe Garland while drummer Sidney Catlet vigorously pushes the band along.
Seven of the tracks are by a septet or quartet, most of whom come from within the big band and feature guest soprano sax player Sidney Bechet. As usual, Armstrong’s voice, as much as his trumpet, is featured but the choice of material is less ‘commercial’ and Bechet’s uninhibited soaring saxophone seems to urge Armstrong into the sort of performance we remember from his Hot 5 days.
Finally, Armstrong joins the Mills Brothers (‘four boys and a guitar’) in four recordings: pleasant jaunty singing from the five, with a little bit of the Armstrong horn.
This CD is up to the usual Naxos standard with good transfers from clean originals, digitally restored and with well-written notes and full recording details.