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Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson

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Album Review

By 1957, hard bop was firmly established as the jazz of now, while pianist Oscar Peterson and his ensemble with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis were making their own distinctive presence known as a true working band playing standards in the swing tradition. Louis Armstrong was more recognizable to the general public as a singer instead of the pioneering trumpet player we all know he was. But popularity contests being the trend, Armstrong's newer fans wanted to hear him entertain them, so in retrospect it was probably a good move to feature his vocalizing on these tracks with Peterson's band and guest drummer Louie Bellson sitting in. The standard form of Armstrong singing the lead lines, followed by playing his pithy and witty horn solos based on the melody secondarily, provides the basis for the format on this charming but predictable recording. What happens frequently is that Armstrong and Peterson play lovely ad lib vocal/piano duets at the outset of many tunes. They are all songs you likely know, with few upbeat numbers or obscure choices, and four extra tracks tacked onto the CD version past the original sessions. In fact, it is the familiarity of songs like the midtempo "Let's Fall in Love," with Armstrong's gravelly and scat singing, and his marvelous ability to riff off of the basic songs that make these offerings endearing. A classic take of "Blues in the Night" is the showstopper, while choosing "Moon Song" is a good, off the beaten path pick as the trumpeter plays two solo choruses, and he leads out on his horn for once during the slightly bouncy, basic blues "I Was Doing All Right." Some extremely slow tunes crop up on occasion, like "How Long Has This Been Going On?," an atypically downtempo take of "Let's Do It," and "You Go to My Head," featuring Peterson's crystalline piano. Liner note author Leonard Feather opines that this is Armstrong's first attempt at the latter tune, and compares it historically to Billie Holiday. There are the dependable swingers "Just One of Those Things," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and "Sweet Lorraine" with Peterson at his accompanying best; a ramped-up version of the usually downtrodden "Willow Weep for Me"; and a duet between Armstrong and Ellis on the sad two-minute ditty "There's No You." All in all, it's difficult to critique or find any real fault with these sessions, though Peterson is subsumed by the presence of Armstrong, who, as Feather notes, really needs nobody's help. That this was their only collaboration speaks volumes of how interactive and communal the session really was, aside from the music made being fairly precious. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson

This is a wonderful, lazy summer time jazz album. I own many other Louis Armstrong albums but have recently discovered this one and I'm glad I found it. Dianna Krall does a remake of "Let's Fall in Love" which is performed by Louis and Oscar on this album. It is nice to know newer artists are looking to the past in order to be inspired. Money well spent.

Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson

Not many Sache albums featured Volcals. Oscar Peterson a genius on piano and Louis Armstrong with his wonderful horn and unique voice together on the same album. What a great piece of jazz. They are both somewhere else making they're wonderful music. Godbless them both!

You Go to My Head

What a great duo. In the best of jazz tradition, success and total enjoyment.


Born: August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing, beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging...
Full Bio

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