Album Review: Louis Armstrong — The Nightclubs

A new compilation from Dot Time Records brings together an assortment of live performances by Luis Armstrong. Dating from the first half of the 1950s, these nine tracks (seven more on the CD version not reviewed here) document Satchmo playing with small ensembles in New York City and San Francisco clubs.

The playing is spirited, and support by Armstrong associates Jack Teagarden (trombone), drummer Cozy Cole and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines is superb. The audio quality – recorded for broadcast, apparently – is only fair, but the historical importance of these recordings offsets any concerns in that regard. Armstrong takes the lead vocal throughout, sometimes joined by Velma Middleton. The source tapes were provided by the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and a brief Ricky Riccardi liner note essay provides listeners with context for the recordings.