Down Beat (8/92, p.50) - 4.5 Stars - Very Good Plus - "...Louis Armstrong and King Oliver together with the Creole Jazz Band in 1923, confidently took jazz beyond showiness to majesty...Creole tracks are the first jazz masterworks..."
Musician (4/93, p.90) - "...Armstrong seems about ready to bust out, suspended between the polyphonic interplay of the New Orleans ensemble and his love for role model Joe Oliver (it's often challenging to tell who's who), with teasing intimations of the solo breakthroughs to come..."
Personnel: Louis Armstrong (cornet); Alberta Hunter, Clarence Todd (vocals); Stump Evans (C-melody saxophone); Charlie Johnson (bass saxophone); King Oliver (cornet); Charlie Irvis, Honore Dutrey, Aaron Thompson (trombone); Sidney Bechet (soprano saxophone, clarinet); Buster Bailey, Johnny Dodds (clarinet); Lil Hardin Armstrong (piano); Buddy Christian, Johnny St. Cyr, Bill Johnson (banjo); Baby Dodds (drums).
Recorded between 1923 & 1925. Includes original liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason.
Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Personnel: Louis Armstrong (cornet); Johnny Dodds (clarinet); King Oliver (cornet); Honore Dutrey (trombone); Lil Hardin (piano); Baby Dodds (drums).
Recording information: Chicago, IL (04/06/1923-12/22/1924); New York, NY (04/06/1923-12/22/1924); Richmond, IN (04/06/1923-12/22/1924).
Unknown Contributor Role: Louis Armstrong.
The recordings on LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND KING OLIVER are not only Satchmo's earliest sides but represent what many consider jazz's first recorded masterpieces. Cut in 1923 on extremely primitive recording equipment, the CD's first 18 tracks are by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, a group that Oliver founded in Chicago several years after leaving his native New Orleans. Featuring Oliver and his protege, the 22-year-old Armstrong, on dual cornets, the group swings ferociously and plays together so well that their interplay often borders on the telepathic.
While at this early stage of Louis Armstrong's career his playing was little more than a carbon copy of his mentor's, this fact works to the music's advantage, as the two musicians' simultaneous improvised solos are so in sync that they often sound completely arranged. These historic tracks also include standout playing from the great Johnny Dodds on clarinet and Lil Hardin Armstrong (Louis Armstrong's future wife) on piano, and suprisingly modern sounding C-Melody sax work from Stump Evans. The remainder of the disc's tracks are 1924 recordings by The Red Onion Jazz Babies, an Armstrong-led group which included the legendary Sidney Bechet on clarinet and tenor sax.