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Louis Armstrong, “The Complete RCA Victor Recordings” (RCA, 2001; tracks recorded 1932-33 and 1946-47).

Louis Armstrong recorded for RCA Victor for two relatively brief periods in his long career, in the early days of his big band (1932 to '33) and in the period when he broke up the orchestra and returned to a New Orleans-style smaller ensemble (1946 to '47). This four-CD set is evenly divided between the two periods. The early big bands--first drummer Chick Webb's and then the trumpeter's own--provide a comfortable setting for Armstrong, who simply reigned supreme among jazz soloists of the period, with peerless invention and a stunning flexibility. He was defining the jazz singer's art as well, his subtle phrasing transforming even casual songs as convincingly as his flamboyant horn. Purists have often mourned Armstrong's shift to large groups, but these are fine bands, driven along by potent drummers like Webb and Big Sid Carlett and manned by distinguished players like saxophonists Louis Jordan and Budd Johnson and pianist Teddy Wilson. The later recordings find Armstrong leading superb groups, with old associates like trombonist Kid Ory, clarinetist Barney Bigard, and drummer Zutty Singleton and classic repertoire like Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair." The Town Hall recordings from 1947, with Armstrong trading vocals and solos with trombonist Jack Teagarden, are among Louis's greatest work. The set also includes meetings with other musical icons. Armstrong provides bluesy trumpet accompaniment to country singer Jimmie Rodgers on a rendition of "Blue Yodel No. 9" and meets Duke Ellington on record for the first time on "Long, Long Journey."

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Disc: 1
1. That's My Home
2. Hobo, You Can't Ride This Train
3. I Hate to Leave You Now
4. You'll Wish You'd Never Been Born
5. I'll Be Glad When You're Dead
6. When You're Smiling/St. James
7. I've Got the World on a String
8. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
9. Hustlin' and Bustlin' for Baby
10. Sittin' in the Dark
11. High Society
12. He's a Son of the South
13. Some Sweet Day
14. Basin Street Blues
15. Honey, Do!
16. Snowball
17. Mahogany Hall Stomp
18. Swing, You Cats

Disc: 2
1. Honey, Don't You Love Me Any More?
2. Mississippi Basin
3. Laughin' Louie
4. Tomorrow Night
5. Dusky Stevedore
6. There's a Cabin in the Pines
7. Mighty River
8. Sweet Sue, Just You
9. I Wonder Who
10. St. Louis Blues
11. Don't Play Me Cheap
12. That's My Home [Alternate Take]
13. Hobo, You Can't Ride This Train [Alternate Take]
14. I Hate to Leave You Now [Alternate Take]
15. You'll Wish You'd Never Been Born [Alternate Take][#]
16. When You're Smiling/St. James Infirmar
17. Mississippi Basin [Alternate Take][#][*]
18. Laughin' Louie [Alternate Take]
19. Tomorrow Night [Alternate Take][#]
20. Standin' on the Corner [Blue Yodel No. 9]

Disc: 3
1. Long, Long Journey
2. Snafu
3. Linger in My Arms a Little Longer, Baby
4. Whatta Ya Gonna Do?
5. No Variety Blues
6. Joseph 'n' His Brudders
7. Back o' Town Blues
8. I Want a Little Girl
9. Sugar - Louis Armstrong
10. Blues for Yesterday
11. Blues in the South
12. Endie
13. Blues Are Brewin'
14. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
15. Where the Blues Were Born in New Orleans
16. Mahogany Hall Stomp
17. I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder
18. I Believe
19. Why Doubt My Love?

Disc: 4
1. It Takes Time
2. You Don't Learn That in School
3. Ain't Misbehavin'
4. Rockin' Chair
5. Back o' Town Blues
6. Pennies from Heaven
7. Save It, Pretty Mama
8. St. James Infirmary
9. Jack-Armstrong Blues
10. Rockin' Chair
11. Some Day You'll Be Sorry
12. Fifty-Fifty Blues
13. Song Was Born
14. Please Stop Playin' Those Blues, Boy
15. Before Longs
16. Lovely Weather We're Having
17. Rain, Rain
18. Never Saw a Better Day


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