MOSAIC RECORDS, that scrappy little jazz-reissue house that specializes in offering handsome, thorough, excellently remastered sets, has been very attentive to the Louis Armstrong legacy. First there were six CDs covering the Decca recordings of the All-Stars from 1950-58, then all of the (pre-All-Stars) Decca studio recordings from 1935-46 (six CDs). Most recently we switched labels (as Armstrong did) to get the All-Stars recorded live between 1947 and 1958 for Columbia and RCA (a whopping nine discs) ... which set the stage for what happened next.
The RCA years begin with a session put together to feature Esquire magazine’s 1946 jazz-poll winners, a list heavily influenced by the magazine’s columnist, Leonard Feather, who also helmed the recording session. And I’d like to salute Ricky Riccardi, who wrote the excellent booklet text (about whom more later) for his clear-eyed appraisal of Feather’s tiresome, meddlesome nature. There was a man who set himself up as a jazz savant in order to impose his own limited-interest opinions – and some mediocre songs – on a public looking for guidance.