Give that man a spotlight !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Essential Louis Armstrong is a wonderful two CD tribute to one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. The artwork is great and the sound quality is really rather good--even on the older tracks on the first CD.
The first CD starts with "Sugar Foot Stomp." The melody is awesome and the brass never sounded better! The drums and percussion enhance the melody even further. I love Louis on that trumpet! "Heebie Jeebies" is a popular number from that era and when these fine musicians play it, it sparkles like gold even with a bit of surface noise! Louis' trumpet work is exceptional; and the rest of the guys aren't playing too shabbily, either. Moreover, there's also "Basin Street Blues;" this number begins with some great percussion and when the rest of the guys come in this number takes off like a jet! Louis and his buddies do a fantastic job on "Basin Street Blues."
"St. James Infirmary" is yet another early Louis Armstrong hit that features his and his men playing this with great sensitivity and panache--every step of the way! I love it. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" is beautiful when these people play it; and Louis' trumpet work enhances this number greatly. "Ain't Misbehavin'" has its usual fast and playful tempo to give this tune just the right feel. "Ain't Misbehavin'" by Handy sure is some mighty fine music! The first CD ends with "I'm Confessin';" this number has Louis singing very well and the musical accompaniment makes this quite a strong number.
The second CD continues the hits. "Memories Of You" starts things off right; the percussion and the trumpet solo by Louis makes this number a very memorable one. "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" gets the royal treatment from Louis and his buddies; they play this as if it were new, fresh and the best tune ever recorded! "Stardust" also shines brightly as the guys play it up right! Louis' trumpet work never sounded better.
"Georgia On My Mind" gets a faster tempo than I'm used to hearing but it still holds its own very well. "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" highlights again Louis's fine trumpet playing and the rest of the guys never miss a beat! "Blueberry Hill" starts with some might fine horns and percussion; this is also one of the tracks that feature Louis singing as well. Louis never sings a superfluous note with that awesome voice of his! The backup vocalists are superfluous; Louis could have handled this all on his own. Oh, well.
"Honeysuckle Rose" has Louis singing with Velma Middleton; and together they do a fine job on this jazzy arrangement for this classy tune. The second CD also ends very nicely with "What A Wonderful World." "What A Wonderful World" was a huge hit for Louis in his later years; and when you hear it there's be no question as to why it was and still is a major hit.
Look for some great liner notes with terrific photos, too.
In short, Louis Armstrong fans will find this indispensable for rounding out their collections. People who also want many of Louis' hits without buying so many CDs would do well to at least start with this two CD set.
I Like this one better than definative, but....
bobtec | Redlands, CA | 03/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...It's far from essential. This is a nice tid bit of what's out there. It's so good that it leaves you wanting more. Your best bet is to start out with The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings by King Oliver (unbelievably great on "Off the Record / Archeophone" label), or The Complete Hot Fives and Sevens (Sony is the company that holds the official rights, but there are several imports out there that are good, and at a lower price). Then work your way up to the Definitive Records (an import jazz lable) collections of complete Decca recordings.
His later (pop) stuff is good, but his early (jazz) stuff is legendary."