Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World


What a Wonderful World


Louis Armstrong (vocals)


Louis Armstrong and His Friends (RCA/Bluebird 090266396122)

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Louis Armstrong (vocals), George Duvivier (bass), Richard Davis (bass), John Williams, Jr. (bass), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Sam Brown (guitar), Bernard Purdie (drums), Thad Jones (trumpet), Quentin Jackson (trombone), Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn), Oliver Nelson (arranger, conductor).

Composed by Bob Thiele aka George Douglas and George David Weiss


Recorded: New York, May 26, 1970


Rating: 70/100 (learn more)

Major label executives, producers and (quite possibly) Washington insiders envisioned a new direction for Louis Armstrong once producer Bob Thiele brought him into the studio for this session. Sounding like a hardened lobbyist with greater political aspirations, this "contemporary" version of "What a Wonderful World" swings uncharacteristically amidst Armstrong's strange reflections upon society.

Intoning as if he is sitting back in a rocking chair as an old grandpa smoking a pipe filled with tobacco, he says, "Some of you young folks been saying to me, "hey, Pops, what you mean what a wonderful world," continuing, "How 'bout all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful?" A quick change in tone finds him pleading with listeners, stumping for public support for a message which is the exact same as John Lennon's ("Give Peace a Chance").

My first reaction is one of disappointment, for I was unaware that this was not the original version until I heard it. As a result, my second (and final) reaction is to wonder who the "young folks" that turned to Louis Armstrong for political leadership in the late 1960s were and if they knew what brand of youthful folly they were dabbling with by doing so.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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