One of the founding fathers of jazz, Louis Armstrong’s influence cannot possibly be measured. His persona was larger-than-life, successfully carrying his career into the 1950s and beyond. No matter the era or venue, Satchmo and his All-Stars were always an entertaining listen.
- Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (1954) A
- Out of all LPs released in 1954, Satchmo’s tribute to the influential blues pioneer is by far the most fun. In fact, this may be the most amusing and lighthearted album of the entire decade.
- Satch Plays Fats: A Tribute to the Immortal Fats Waller (1955) A-
- Louis Armstrong is an American icon, leading with charisma, innovation and earth-shattering talent. This loving tribute to ragtime pianist Fats Waller — a major influence on Armstrong’s Dixieland sound — captures the trumpeter at his most magnetic.
- Ella and Louis (1956, with Ella Fitzgerald) A
- Two of the most legendary jazz singers of all time finally team up on record for a fun and fiery set. Not to mention fascinating. The LP is full of popular standards (chief among them “Moonlight in Vermont,” “April in Paris” and “Stars Fell on Alabama”), but the real pleasure is just basking in the magnetic stage presence that these two legendary performers bring together. A dream pairing.
- Ella and Louis Again (1957, with Ella Fitzgerald) B+
- Again? So be it. But there’s an all-too-noticeable lack of trumpet.