“The excellence of Louis’ band is so high and so consistent that every man deserves commendation for his part in making this remarkably fine record. Trummy Young particularly should be singled out for his driving solos and for the way his ‘boots’ Louis in the final ensembles. The way I fell about this record can be summed up in this way. When I die, I want people to say, ‘That’s the guy that if it hadn’t been for him and Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy, there wouldn’t have been that great record, Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy.'” – excerpt from the sleeve notes by George Avakian
“Pure Pleasure has remastered one of my desert island discs – my favorite Armstrong recording and one that shows him at his best musically and sonically…How does this new release stack up against the original maroon label Columbia vinyl? Almost from the moment that the stylus first touched down, I heard subtle and not so subtle details that I had never noticed before, and I have listened to this recording in various incarnations hundreds of times. Add to that fact that the harmonic texture is captured spot on, and this new re-issue is an instant candidate for my Record of the Year…don’t miss it!” Recording = 10/10; Music = 10/10 – Dennis D. Davis, Hi-Fi+, Issue 45.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
This recording was not only Louis Armstrong’s finest record of the 1950s but one of the truly classic jazz sets. Armstrong and his All-Stars (trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Billy Kyle, bassist Arvell Shaw, drummer Barrett Deems, and singer Velma Middleton) were clearly inspired by the fresh repertoire, 11 songs written by W.C. Handy. Their nearly nine-minute version of “St. Louis Blues” — with witty vocals, roaring Young trombone, and a couple of long majestic trumpet solos — is arguably the greatest version of the oft-recorded song. Other highlights include “Loveless Love,” “Beale Street Blues,” and a romping version of “Ole Miss Blues.” Essential music for all serious jazz collections.
2. Yellow Dog Blues
3. Loveless Love
2. Long Gone (From Bowling Green)
3. Memphis Blues
4. Beale Street Blues
5. Ole Miss Blues
2. Hesitating Blues
3. Atlanta Blues (Make Me One Pallet On Your Floor)
4. George Avakian’s Interview With W.C. Handy
2. Hesitating Blues (rehearsal sequence)
3. Alligator Story
4. Long Gone (From Bowling Green) (rehearsal sequence)