The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (#257)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (#257)
The live performances from 1947 to 1958 have been collected at last, let it be known that anyone who overlooks the music Louis Armstrong made on those concert stages does so at great expense to his or her personal joy.
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies

9 CDs -  $149.00


So Much Unreleased Music!
So Much Joy!

The long-accepted rule of jazz goes this way: as soon as you are embraced by society at large, it's time for the jazz world to write you off. The rule is even stricter if your popular success comes from entertainment outside of jazz, such as popular music, TV appearances, or movie stardom.

Which explains in large measure why critics were quick to turn away from Louis Armstrong in the late 1940s, when he began fronting the group known as Louis Armstrong and The All Stars. Long before that, he had introduced innovations we now accept as "how you play jazz." That wasn't enough? And he kept playing it, in a different city and a different continent, as many as 300 nights a year. THAT wasn't enough?

Now that his live performances from 1947 to 1958 have been collected at last, let it be known that anyone who overlooks the music Louis Armstrong made on those concert stages does so at great expense to his or her personal joy.

A First-Ever Compilation
Mosaic's new set, The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, is the first to span this range of Louis' career. It is rich with new discoveries and legendary omissions, on nine CDs. For the unreleased material alone, this one is a real collector's item.

We've restored missing solos and removed fake applause. We tracked down the earliest, most authoritative sources for the music and cleaned-up everything to the best of our ability using state-of-the-art techniques. And we corrected a great deal of misinformation regarding discographical details.

Throughout, you will be amazed at his proficiency on the horn, the brilliance of his sound, the beguiling sensuality of his vocals, and how great he was at being the standard-bearer for his own music, as well as an interpreter of other people's songs. Louis Armstrong was doing the work of a working musician; a man who pulled out all the stops no matter where he was, how bad his lip felt, whether or not the mob was chasing him, or how many times audiences called for the same favorites. He loved what he was doing… he remembered abject poverty… he was grateful to be working… and he gave music everything he had. In return, the world presented him with honors and awards until the world ran out.

Included in the box is the famous Town Hall concert from May 17, 1947 that set the style for the small group music he'd make from that point on. That date came from the French RCA tapes that Sony was able to locate for us.

Newly-Found, from Carnegie Hall
Following that is a Carnegie Hall date from November 1947. For a long time the masters were mislabeled and thought to be lost, and no one has heard a note of it on a commercial release. We've got everything deemed releasable that isn't duplicated by other recordings in the collection. And it all sounds wonderful.

Skip ahead about eight years to a concert from the Netherlands. Unfortunately the entire concert hasn't survived, but George Avakian, who produced the date as part of the "Ambassador Satch" sessions, saved what he thought should come out commercially. Six of the tracks have been on other collections, but we've got everything George rescued.

Two months later, the ambassador was in Milan. Wanting to capture a different feel, Avakian rented a movie theater, invited a few jazz lovers, and turned on the microphones. Later feeling there weren't enough people in the house to make for an enthusiastic response, he added applause. We pulled it out, but kept the wild screams of the Italian fans. And with three of the four original tapes in our possession, we have lots of music that never made it to release. We think it stands up spectacularly without the fake support.

More, More, More
The set also includes a date from Los Angeles in January 1956 that was initially issued as though it was live, but wasn't. It was a studio date where the group worked out on a handful of popular tunes. Mosaic has everything recorded that day, and with many unedited takes, it's another treasure that reveals how songs developed and refined.

The Great Chicago Concert from June 1956 is well known, but has been out of print a long time. You can enjoy it here again, with some delightful additions: "Indiana" featured bass player Dale Jones, but was released with the bass solo edited out! Here, it's restored. And Louis' solo on "Black and Blue" is restored to its full length.

There's also a concert from Newport in 1956, with four previously unissued performances. A productive day at Lewisohn Stadium found Avakian recording a rehearsal session with the All Stars in the afternoon and during the evening concert, three attempts at "St. Louis Blues" with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. (The recording equipment caught everything, including a camera breaking down, Bernstein chatting up the audience, Louis playing encores to keep the fans happy. It's quite a document.) And then there's Newport 1958, with very little overlap from 1956. Only three tracks have ever been heard from this great date that included a reunion with Jack Teagarden and Bobby Hackett. We've got the whole set.

There are also one-offs: Edward R. Murrow interviewing Louis in Paris; a performance, previously unissued, of Louis in London; and two tracks from a 1956 date in Ghana that have not been previously released. Throughout, we have corrected details about the time and place of certain recordings where the original recording companies played fast and loose with the details, and restored recordings to their original condition when we discovered the official releases might have been cobbled together from as many as five different sources.

Oh, and by the way, the All Stars? George Wettling, Bob Haggart, Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Peanuts Hucko, Sid Catlett, Dick Cary, Barney Bigard, Arvell Shaw, Trummy Young, Edmond Hall, Billy Kyle, and others.

One of the criticisms leveled at Armstrong over the years is that after creating exceptional improvisations on iconic tunes, he locked them in and performed them similarly night after night. What is apparent from this set is how varied his repertoire was, how much life he put into every performance, and how thrilled audiences were in his presence. Besides - do you really want to hear "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" without his trademark "Good evening, everybody" at the end?

Our heavily-researched brochure includes an exhaustive essay by Ricky Riccardi, archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and one of the leading experts on Armstrong worldwide. We've written a new discography that finally eliminates confusion and distortion regarding Louis' recorded output. And there are many vintage photographs from Louis' exceptional career.

We highly recommend this one-of-a-kind set and remind jazz listeners everywhere that when our Mosaic sets sell out, they are gone for good.

Read More About LouisArmstrong:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Our liner notes for the Louis Armstrong live set were written by one of the most knowledgeable individuals devoted to the music of Armstrong, Ricky Riccardi. He has written a most successful book on the post-World War II life of Armstrong (titled What A Wonderful World) and is currently the archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and webmaster for an online blog about Louis ( The detail and passion that he brings to this set is immeasurable and is a welcome addition to the music.

The Louis Armstrong live material came from a variety of sources. The 1947 Town Hall Concert and Carnegie Hall concerts were originally recorded onto 16” lacquer discs. Since these no longer exist we used the ¼” reel to reel tapes that the discs were transferred onto in the early 1950s (although 6 performances from the Town Hall concert did survive in the form of metal parts which we transferred). The rest of the material in this set came from the original job reels that exist in either ¼” or ½” reels. We transferred the best sounding source copy which came from either the George Avakian Collection (now housed at the New York Public Library) or from the Sony Archives.

Photo Copyright © Protected
The photos for the Armstrong live set come from various sources. For the most part they are never before seen images that reside at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sony Photo Archives. There are photos that pertain for the most part with the actual live concerts being performed and will certainly give you a “fly on the wall” perspective of the Armstrong ensemble in action and of stage.

Sessions (L and M), Lewisohn Stadium, NY, July 14-15, 1956

Glaser still had one obligation to Avakian after Newport and that was to allow him to record the All Stars at Lewisohn Stadium, where Edward R. Murrow would be filming him performing a “Concerto Grosso” version of “St. Louis Blues,” conducted by Leonard Bernstein. This would be a major event.

Of course, to Armstrong, it was just another gig and he was relaxed as ever. The same couldn’t be said for Bernstein. Armstrong recalled that the conductor “was more nervous for me, and I had to look at him, because he was so anxious for us to come out right….He was explaining this cadenza I had to make….He say, ‘Now, when you get to this cadenza and you get a little nervous or something, you know, well, just kind of shorten it or whatever it is.’ I said, ‘Okay, daddy.’ Well, you know, I warm up at home. I hit the stage, I’m ready, whether it’s a rehearsal or anything. See? From the first rehearsal on down we wailed. Well, from then on, he got confidence. It don’t take long for a person to relax once they hear me go down with the arrangement. After that, he got himself straightened.”

Avakian was on hand to record the rehearsal, which took place earlier in the same day as the concert. The surviving audio is a raggedy affair, as the All Stars and the orchestra work section by section on getting it right, with many clams along the way. They never did rehearse a complete take (at least not on the surviving reels) but once everyone was comfortable with the routine, the orchestra left the stage.

But the All Stars weren’t quite through. Avakian, always a quick thinker, saw an opening: the All Stars had some down time before the show but now they were warmed up and the recording equipment was in place. Would they care to record a few numbers? Joe Glaser wasn’t around so he couldn’t stop anything. Armstrong, always happy to help his friend, agreed.

All of a sudden, it was Milan all over again. In front of smattering of friends, associates and Philharmonic musicians, Avakian started an impromptu recording session to record some different repertoire. He knew he had limited time so he couldn’t ask the band to whip up something new. But he did ask them to reach deep into their repertoire for a couple of rarely played instrumentals: Way Down Yonder In New Orleans and
Armstrong almost always improvised the bulk of his solo on Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, though he always began by quoting Lester Young’s solo on You Can Depend On Me with Count Basie (something pointed out to me by Loren Schoenberg). He’s in total command of the horn on this one, even showing off some fast-fingering at times. Jones’s bass solo was edited out by Avakian when this was originally released (no surprise there) but it has been restored for this set.


Click here to write a review

  Not just Louie
Its not just Louie - the bands are great with highlights being Bigard, Catlett, and Teagarden. The latter adds both vocals and trombone work to the mix on a few discs. The music ranges from laid back to intense. Throughout Armstrong is superb - I had no idea his later playing was this good. This box set has been a treat from disc to disc. Highly recommended.
  A revelatory listening experience
Ive been a Louis Armstrong fan for a long time,but I had no idea what an amazing live performer he was. Nine discs of concert material spanning eleven years,and its all so great. Beautifully mastered and great notes as well. Thank you Mosaic!
  Like seeing an Old Master painting without the grime
Wow! I got this mainly because I was interested in the 1947 live recordings with Jack Teagarden, but the music is first-rate throughout and hearing the original live dates without George Avakians prissy edits and dubbed-in applause is like seeing an Old Master painting cleaned and restored to its original sheen and sparkle after the accumulated grime of the centuries. The 1956 Chicago concert is the real treasure here, a little-known -- totally unknown until 1980 -- performance with Armstrong at his fiery best. My one regret is that Earl Fatha Hines isnt on this album, but alas all his live recordings with the Armstrong All-Stars were on Decca. Otherwise this is a must-have!
  Jeremy Hagen
I love listening to this when i play League of Legends. My summoner name is Exploud. I belong in Challenger but right now my real rank is bronze 3.

The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (#257)
The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (#257)
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
9 CDs - $149.00

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