Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong 1946-1966
Release Date: April 10, 2021
Label: Mosaic Records

Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong 1946-1966 is a 7-CD boxed set that will take listeners into the studio with Armstrong in a way never previously imaginable. Mosaic Records has long been lauded for the release of stunning, hi-fidelity limited edition collections, providing historical recordings of superb musicians to passionate jazz lovers around the globe.  Here, all 29 of Armstrong’s 1946-1947 RCA recordings are being presented in superb fidelity, transferred from the original metal parts.  These RCA recordings are paired along with 3 classic albums and singles from the Columbia label, creating the most intimate portrait of Armstrong, the All Stars, and producer George Avakian at work in the studios. This limited edition boxed set will be available only at www.mosaicrecords.com.  

This collection is a follow-up to Mosaic Records’ 2014 release The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and The All Stars 1947-1958. This 2021 7-CD compilation directs our attention to the latter half of the jazz legend’s recording career. The recordings that make up this release challenge the oft-repeated notion that Armstrong’s most creative and distinctive output came from his earlier years. These recorded works featuring celebrated historic releases such as Louis Armstrong Plays W.C Handy, Satch Plays Fats and The Real Ambassadors all come from the artist’s latter years recording on both Columbia and RCA Victor. While critics and many in the jazz community looked at the older Armstrong as someone whose best years were behind him, Armstrong rebutted ““[They] don’t realize that I’m playing better now than I’ve ever played in my life,” and was even quoted as saying “How many modern trumpet players could play my solos?” he asked Gilbert Millstein in 1960. “You’d have to carry ‘em out on stretchers.”

The story of Armstrong’s entanglement with RCA Victor which brought us the 29 recordings displayed on this release begins with Armstrong still toting a big band across the country on an endless series of one-nighters. A new contract with RCA Victor began with the recording of Armstrong’s first release with Duke Ellington as part of an “Esquire All-American 1946 Award Winners” date overseen by Leonard Feather. Following this date, Armstrong delivered four sensational sides with a small group featuring Bobby Hackett and Jack Teagarden in June 1947, eventually leading to the formation of his popular small group, the All Stars.
This collection chronicles the collaboration of Louis Armstrong and longtime friend, and producer George Avakian. After several years of recording popular hits for Decca Records, elevating Armstrong’s popularity but hurting his reputation with some in the jazz world, Avakian relished the opportunity to record Armstrong in a more jazz-centric setting but couldn’t get through Decca’s ironclad contract. In 1954, this finally changed, and the result was the Avakian-produced Louis Armstrong Plays W.C Handy. This release, long regarded as the finest long-playing album of Armstrong’s entire career, featured Armstrong’s All Stars in top form. Avakian was known for his copious post-production work, splicing the best portions of each take in order to present the optimal listening experience. The result was a critical and commercial smash. “They’re perfect—they’re my tops,” Armstrong said of the album. This was followed by another masterpiece - Satch Plays Fats which featured emotional readings of “Blue Turning Grey Over You” and “Black and Blue” and romps on Waller favorites such as “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Honeysuckle Rose” and then ended his tenure with Armstrong after recording Louis’ monster hit “Mack the Knife”.

While assembling this set, the producers were greeted by dozens of surprises on the original session tapes. Because Avakian relied so much on editing and splicing, his albums contained very few complete, unedited takes. This set will make up for that, with over three hours of bonus material, including unissued takes, rehearsals and even studio discussions, creating the most intimate portrait of Armstrong, the All Stars, and Avakian at work in the studios. And as a tribute to Avakian, Mosaic Records is also including newly remastered transfers of the original albums in their original sequence, giving listeners the rare opportunity to hear the beloved master takes side-by-side with their unedited counterparts.

Mosaic Records is thrilled to include over 75 minutes of material not originally found on The Real Ambassadors, the 1961 groundbreaking collaboration between Louis Armstrong; Dave Brubeck; Lambert, Hendricks and Ross; and Carmen McRae. The collection features previously unissued alternate takes of each of Armstrong’s features, including multiple takes of both “Summer Song” and “They Say I Look Like God”, two of the highpoints of not just the album, but Armstrong’s entire career. With a lifetime of wisdom at his disposal and mortality now staring him in the eyes, Armstrong brought a gravitas to his work on The Real Ambassadors, a release which both Brubeck and Armstrong remained especially proud of until the end of their respective lives.

Like all Mosaic Records releases, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946 - 66 will be a limited edition set. Including the centerpiece Columbia recordings, the 1946-1947 RCA sides, the profound The Real Ambassadors, as well as obscure rarities such as Trummy Young’s studio feature on “Tain’t What You Do”, and two sides from the obscure 1956 television production The Lord Don’t Play Favorites, this is an essential purchase for anyone interested in Satchmo the Great. In addition, the scope of this endeavor from Mosaic extends far past the collection of the included recordings. The collection includes a 30,000 word essay from Armstrong biographer Ricky Riccardi, and, with the permission from The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, over 40 photos from the collections of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the great majority of which have never been published.

Celebrated for the exhaustiveness in their dedication to quality completeness of their definitive collections and superior value since 1983, Mosaic Records has offered exceptional packages chronicling the works of quintessential artists to discerning jazz lovers across the globe. 2021’s The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946 - 66 is guaranteed to be one of the company’s most popular releases to date. Don’t miss out on this definitive document of why Pops will always remain tops.

Derived From Liner Notes by Ricky Riccardi.

MIKE GREENBLATT
GOLDMINE MAGAZINE

"This is history of the most profound sort: the late-career artistry of Pops that includes never-before-heard alternate takes, rehearsals, even studio banter between the icon and producer George Avakian." Read this review here.

 

RON HART
AOL.

"No matter how far removed we might be from his era, Louis Armstrong will always matter. Without him, the worlds of jazz and pop may have never come together in the fashion on which we were all raised." Read this review here.

 

MATT MICUCCI
JAZZIZ

Louis Armstrong, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66 (Mosaic): Mosaic Records will release The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66 on April 10. This limited-edition, 7-CD boxed set details the jazz luminary’s stellar output in his latter years. The set features all 29 of Armstrong’s 1946-47 RCA recordings presented in superb fidelity and are paired with thre classic albums and singles from the Columbia label. Click here to preorder. Read this article here.

 

SCOTT YANOW
THE SYNCOPATED TIMES

"Needless to say, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-1966 (a limited-edition box set that is available from www.mosaicrecords.com) is essential for all Louis Armstrong collectors, even those who have the three albums and the earlier RCA sessions. The alternate versions add to one’s understanding and enjoyment of Louis Armstrong and his music." Read this review here.

 

KEVIN WHITLOCK
JAZZWISE

Early recordings of the iconic trumpeter’s music will be presented in a comprehensive new 7 CD album set. Read this announcement here.

 

LAST ROW MUSIC
The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946 – 66 is guaranteed to be one of the company’s most popular releases to date. Don’t miss out on this definitive document of why Pops will always remain tops. Read this announcement here.

 

SKIP HELLER
ALL. ABOUT JAZZ
"Aside from the highlights of this set being some of the best jazz has to offer, the chance to look closely at Armstrong in action is indispensable. He does not tend to his own cult of personality, nor does he attempt to make a mystery of himself. Terry Teachout, whose Pops is the gold standard for musician bios, said "Armstrong was the sort of person where the more you knew about him, the more you love." This box gives us more, exhaustively documenting not only the work itself, but also the beautiful giant who made it."  Read this review here.

 

HECTOR MARTIN
CANCIÓN A QUEMARROPA

Mosaic Records presenta el lanzamiento de The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66, una lujosa caja de 7 cds que llevará a los oyentes de manera mágica al estudio con el gran Armstrong de una manera antes difícil de imaginar. Para leer este anuncio presione aquí.

 

PHIL FREEMAN
STEREOGUM

Louis Armstrong, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66 (Mosaic): It’s impossible to imagine jazz without Louis Armstrong..A new box set from Mosaic, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia And RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-1966, shines a light on a superb later era in Armstrong’s career. Read this article here.

STEVE GREENLEE
JAZZTIMES
"Every melody on these first two discs will stick in your brain for days." Read this review here.

 

LEONARD WEINREICH
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
"In short, the entire collection is an intoxicating cocktail of profundity and joy."  Read this review here.

 

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY

"This set is obviously a must-have for Armstrong fans, but it also serves as an inspiration for artists to stick with their vision, and not succumb to the changing trends of the time. Some people adapt to the times, others transcend them, which is what this set shows Armstrong did." Read the full review here.

JEFF KROW
AUDIOPHILE AUDITION

For Louis Armstrong completists, this is a must purchase. It is also highly recommended as well for fans who would enjoy being a “fly on the wall” witnessing historical jazz recordings, forming their own opinions on the choices that artists, and their producers make in determining which song tracks to release. And then there is the fact that the artist IS Louis Armstrong, the iconic jazz legend… Read this review here.

TOM HENRY
TOLEDO BLADE

Jazz aficionados are abuzz about a massive boxed set recently published by Mosaic Records, The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-66. Read this feature here.

MATT SILVER
WRTI

Listed as Jazz Album of the Week here.

RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA

"..his musicality and power are remarkable, making everything he touches his own, illuminating the simplest phrase." Read this feature here.