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Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy [Original recording remastered]

Louis ArmstrongAudio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 16 Songs, 1997 $9.99  
Audio CD, 2008 $6.96  
Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 1997 --  
Vinyl, 2008 $65.18  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. St. Louis BluesLouis Armstrong 8:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Yellow Dog BluesLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 4:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Loveless LoveLouis Armstrong;Velma Middleton 4:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Aunt Hagar's BluesLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Long Gone (From The Bowlin' Green)Louis Armstrong & His All Stars 5:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. The Memphis Blues (Or Mister Crump)Louis Armstrong & His All Stars 2:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Beale Street BluesLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Ole Miss BluesLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 3:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Chantez Les Bas (Sing 'Em Low)Louis Armstrong & His All Stars 4:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Hesitating BluesLouis Armstrong 5:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Atlanta Blues (Make Me One Pallet On Your Floor)Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars 4:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Interview with W.C. HandyLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Loveless LoveLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 5:54$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen14. Hesitating BluesLouis Armstrong & His All Stars 5:38$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen15. Alligator StoryLouis Armstrong & His All Stars0:47$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen16. Long Gone (From The Bowlin' Green)Louis Armstrong & His All Stars 7:53$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000002ADP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,598 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

A wonderful meeting of two institutions of American music, this 1954 album was the finest recording of Louis Armstrong's later career, with the great trumpeter-singer turning to material that was very close to his roots. Both W.C. Handy and Armstrong had a complex relationship with the blues, an essential source for both Handy's popular songs and Armstrong's improvisational art, and these recordings touch on the heart of the matter. On "Yellow Dog Blues," a product of Handy's own early and chance encounter with the rural blues, there's a majesty that recalls Armstrong's early recordings with Bessie Smith. Armstrong is clearly inspired by the classic material and the chance to stretch out on record, and his regular band of the period joins in perfectly. Trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Billy Kyle, and singer Velma Middleton contribute stellar solos and support, while bassist Arvell Shaw and drummer Barrett Deems do an exceptional job of keeping the slower tempos rock steady. This is a deeply moving and consummately executed performance. --Stuart Broomer

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining Louis Armstrong June 11, 2001
Format:Audio CD
I bought this album as an LP in the early 1950's; It was one of the first LP's ever pressed, as I recall, and that is significant for lots of reasons. Mainly, not only was the sound better than 78 RPM records, the tracks could be as long as 30 minutes, allowing jazz to be heard as it really is/was, rather than limited to just 3-4 minutes.
Anyway, at the time I thought it was one of the best recordings I'd ever heard, and I still do. Louis was singing with Velma Middleton, Trummy Young was on trombone, and Barny Bigard at clarinet. This is the Louis Armstrong group at its peak, on this album.
As well as "modern" in its jazz interpretations and styling, "St. Louis Blues" is a double entendre, as Louis indeed approaches jazz sainthood on this track. The album has been remastered allowing better sound than even my new LP did, with Louis' vibratos and harmonics never in better evidence. The track also has what I consider to be the greatest short trombone solo ever made, by Trummy Young. You'll think he is playing a straight through steel pack muffler instead of a trombone, with a power and elegance no other T-bone player ever acheived.
The other tracks are all equally well done, and "Chantez Les Bas" is about as good as New Orleans jazz can get, again with Louis's scat and Trummy's Tbone well nigh perfect. "Long Gone" is funny and swings as only Louis can. His singing on all tracks is not only extremely high quality, it reveals Louis temperament and personality, and his back-and-forth with Velma shows that he never forgot he was a man's man as well as a gentleman.
If you want only one Louis Armstrong album, and want the best, this is the one. A true classic.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One seminal figure in music pays tribute to another April 6, 2002
Format:Audio CD
The enormously cheerful, eager-to-please persona of Louis Armstrong often overshadows his musical appeal to much of the general public. But we wouldn't know about his smiling face nor overactive white handkerchief nor wildly popular performance of a lesser song, "What A Wonderful World," if it weren't for his groundbreaking singing style. And we wouldn't know about his groundbreaking singing style if it weren't for Armstrong's groundbreaking trumpet playing. For me, his trumpet playing provides his chief appeal, but putting his playing and singing together makes for quite an experience! This CD, then, Satchmo's tribute to early blues composer W. C. Handy, provides the listener with the best of both worlds. In addition to Armstrong's spirited, vigorous interpretations of Handy's invaluable contribution to Americana, the listener gets some "bonus tracks" not on the original vinyl-- an interview with the ageing Handy about Satchmo, and various highly entertaining outtakes. If you want to know what makes Louis Armstrong the enduring legend he's become, get this CD first!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Louis never sounded better November 26, 2000
Format:Audio CD
This CD sounds wonderful! LIke it was recorded yesterday. The playing and the vocals are energetic and very bluesy. This is the Louis Armstrong CD for blues lovers. The classic St. Louis Blues is the best version I've ever heard. Great pick.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Armstrong Plays Handy June 15, 2009
Format:Audio CD
The reading of a new biography, "W.C. Handy: The Life and Times of the Man who Made the Blues" (2009) by David Robertson inspired me to revisit Handy's music in this recording by Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars. Originally issued in 1954, the recording became an international best-seller. Handy himself heard and loved it. The recording has been reissued several times and it is offered in this new release at a bargain price. Armstrong and his musicians offer a joyful, urbane improvisatory and highly rhythmical account of Handy's most famous songs. Armstrong is at the center of this album with long, imaginative solo flights on his trumpet in every number. Velma Middleton and Armstrong do the singing. This CD is regarded as one of the best in Armstrong's (1901 -- 1971) long career.

W.C. Handy (1873 -- 1958) was a band leader and composer who became attracted to the blues when he heard a rural musician play with the "sadness of the ages" at a railroad station in 1903 in Tutwiler, Mississippi. His most famous composition, "St Louis Blues" dates from 1914. It initially received little attention, but beginning in 1920 it became, with the possible exception of "White Christmas" the most recorded song in the Twentieth Century. The song is a mixture of blues, tango, and ragtime. Armstrong made two earlier stellar recordings of this work, the first in 1925 with Bessie Smith and the second in 1929. The song has been done in many ways. This 1954 recording is fast, angular and highly rhythmical. In the reading, "St Louis Blues" becomes almost a rock song. It opens with a lengthy virtuosic solo by Armstrong on the tango theme of the piece (which accompanies the words "St. Louis woman! with all her diamond rings).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic. July 7, 2001
Format:Audio CD
This is one of THE cornerstone albums in the whole history of jazz, a complete pleasure from the first note to the last. The combination of W.C.Handy's historic blues compositions and Armstrong was a natural, but all concerned were soon aware that something truly outstanding had been forged in the studio over those three evenings in July 1954. It's generally acknowledged that the sessions featured Armstrong's finest playing since the early 30's, and not much else falls below the level of outstanding either: Armstrong's singing and sly asides are wonderful, the band solid and powerful at any tempo. Only clarinetist Barney Bigard's batteries (to borrow a previous comment) had run down somewhat by this time, although his lower register accompanyment to Armstrong's vocals has its moments - Velma Middleton's singing which has from day one been the subject of ill-aimed criticism is warm and homely, fitting the material and settings perfectly. But the other truly magical contribution comes from trombonist Trummy Young, who whether giving out with lusty, rasping tailgate or soft accompaniment to the vocals gives Pops a good run for his money. Armstrong's pleasure in his sideman's contribution is audibly evident at times. The extras on this cd, Armstrong anecdote, Handy interview and rehearsal sequences are a genuine plus. The excellent sleeve notes are by producer George Avakian, recounting the genesis of the project and the toe-curling story of the original recording's reconstruction after the loss of the session masters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent but would have preferred a wider range of songs rather than repeats of the same/rehearsals
Published 12 days ago by Felix Cerna Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars blazing tribute
This LP sets a standard for making records. Louis puts on a clinic. I highly recommend that you own it.
Published 20 days ago by C. Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does Handy like Louis!
Louis at his best playing WC Handy hits. Only minor downside is some of the conversations/rehearsals during the reprises at the end of the album. Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. A. Wasneechak
5.0 out of 5 stars Satchmo & W.C. Handy
Excellent presentation of the very basis of blues and jazz. Armstrong is his usual outstanding musician; interview with W.C. Handy is classic.
Published 5 months ago by James P. Chilton
5.0 out of 5 stars This Was Louis Armstrong's Finest Moment!
As Louis Armstrong enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1950's while he remained
as great as ever since the 1920's, he had again top the jazz and pop charts in 1954
with... Read more
Published 9 months ago by RH
5.0 out of 5 stars A master pays tribute to a master
Armstrong's brilliant trumpet and overwhelming charisma are evident in this work, but they don't overwhelm the classic compositions on display here. Read more
Published 13 months ago by E. J. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Louis' Best!
This is one of the best Louis Armstrong albums. It includes five bonus tracks, two spoken and three rehearsal sequences, hence not of great additional value, but the album needs no... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Peter Gueckel
5.0 out of 5 stars Louis Armstrong Plays W C Handy
Louis Armstrong and W C Handy? Enough said. This is a wonderful example of Mr. Armstrongs ability on his trumpet. There is an interview with Mr. Read more
Published on April 28, 2012 by KarenK
5.0 out of 5 stars How can you miss?
I purchased this because for well over 50 years we've had this splendid classic jazz recording on tape or on vinyl. We wanted the CD to play in our house and car. Read more
Published on March 30, 2012 by JazzGenoan
5.0 out of 5 stars Prized Possession
This album (the CD version) is one of my most prized possessions. The interview with W. C. Handy is a neat feature. The rehearsal versions of some of the songs are enlightening. Read more
Published on January 17, 2012 by John R. Hightower
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