While many of Louis Armstrong’s recordings have become classics of the holiday season, he never actually released a Christmas album during his lifetime. Now, Verve Records is releasing the famed trumpeter’s holiday recordings as a cohesive body of work called Louis Wishes You a Cool Yule, marking his first-ever official Christmas album.
The 11-track album features nearly all of Armstrong’s holiday output, including Cool Yule, ‘Zat You Santa Claus? and Christmas Night in Harlem. It also features duets with two of Pops’ favourite vocal partners, Velma Middleton and Ella Fitzgerald. For an extra treat, it includes a previously unreleased reading of Samuel Clement Moore’s poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, popularly known as The Night Before Christmas.
Watch the official animated video for the Louis and Ella classic I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm below.
The album will feature new liner notes from Grammy-winning writer and historian Ricky Riccardi, research director for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of two Armstrong biographies (Heart Full of Rhythm and What a Wonderful World).
As a child, Armstrong “did not have much time for Christmas… Life necessitated that he drop out of school and go to work while still a young boy to help support his mother and sister,” Riccardi writes. But after his marriage to Lucille Wilson, the holidays took on a new meaning. “With the holidays approaching, Lucille bought a small Christmas tree and set it up in their hotel room,” Riccardi continues. “According to Lucille, Louis ‘just looked at it and looked at it and told me, ‘This is the first tree I’ve ever had.’ Louis refused to let Lucille take it down and insisted they take it with them on the rest of the tour. The Armstrongs would continue this tradition, Lucille later remarking that they continued setting up ‘a table tree and holiday fixings in whatever hotel in whatever country we happen to be in.’”
Here’s the track listing:
- Cool Yule
- Winter Wonderland
- I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (feat. Ella Fitzgerald)
- ‘Zat You Santa Claus?
- Christmas in New Orleans
- White Christmas
- Christmas Night in Harlem
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside (feat. Velma Middleton)
- Moments to Remember
- What a Wonderful World
- Reading of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (feat. Sullivan Fortner)