Just a glance at the original cover is enough – the ‘King of the Trumpet’ and the ‘King of the Keyboard’ must have thoroughly enjoyed making this album back in 1957. Musical sparks obviously flashed right from the very first title.
Well, that’s not really surprising since the two musicians were the ‘dream team’ of the Fifties, and only the producer Norman Granz, who had both artists under contract, could make that dream come true. Louis Armstrong is at the centre of most titles as singer, but his crystal-clear, brilliant trumpet sound had lost nothing of its fascination in the Fifties.
Naturally Oscar Peterson does not let himself be restricted to the mere role of accompanist – he’s far too genial, too full of imagination and technically accomplished for that. “You Go To My Head”, in the version as sung by Billie Holiday, can match hers any day, filled as it is with unspent freshness and clarity. This title provides a good example of how Armstrong and the Peterson Quartet breathed new life into the old war horses of the “American Songbook” and set new standards for the art of improvisation. ‘There’s No You’, in which Louis is joined by Herb Ellis, is a jewel of a performance and deserves special mention.
The old MGM/Verve pressings often had the drawback that the high notes tended to hiss, which of course spoiled listening to Armstrong’s voice. Luckily this defect has been ironed out in this new pressing.