Satch Plays Fats; Satchmo the Great; Ambassador Satch

COMPOSERS: Louis Armstrong,Various
LABELS: Columbia/Legacy
ALBUM TITLE: Louis Armstrong
PERFORMER: Louis Armstrong (t, v), Trummy Young (tb), Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall (cl), Billy Kyle (p), Arvell Shaw, Dale Jones (b), Barrett Deems (d)
CATALOGUE NO: CK 64927, 62170, 64926


So ubiquitous is the sound of Louis Armstrong even 30 years after his death that it is almost impossible to appreciate the man’s revolutionary influence on jazz. Not only did he invent jazz improvisation and scat singing, but in the process Armstrong became the music industry’s first international pop star.

Released to coincide with the trumpeter’s centenary, these three separately available discs capture classic performances by Armstrong’s second All-Stars line-up from the mid-Fifties.

Satch Plays Fats is perhaps the must-have of the three. In addition to the All-Stars’ bouncing tribute to the music of Thomas Wright Waller and his collaborator Andy Razaf, tracks 14-20 are taken from Okeh sessions in 1929, with Armstrong fronting Carroll Dickerson’s orchestra.

Satchmo the Great is another collector’s piece and is assembled from the original tapes of the documentary film of the same name made by Ed Murrow; the disc contains some priceless Armstrong tour banter.

Made up of live recordings from the same European tour, Ambassador Satch is a companion piece to Satchmo the Great. It’s been said that this particular All-Stars combo spent too much time on the road and sometimes sounded tired as a result. But the criticism misses the point.


The All-Stars existed for the road and, to quote clarinettist Ed Hall in the booklet notes, ‘This band plays best when it’s tired’. Garry Booth