Second Volume in Ella Fitzgerald And Louis Armstrong Collaboration Trilogy, Ella And Louis Again, Mixes Fine Duets With Individual Showcase Moments on New 180g 2LP Masterpiece from Verve and Acoustic Sounds

Your decision as to whether you need the second volume in the 1950s trilogy of recorded collaborations between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong may depend on how much of a fan you are of the Great American Songbook and vocal jazz in general. Louis and Ella’s musical relationship was so special, and they had a connection so strong, that for some of us, October 1957’s Ella And Louis Again — their followup to the acclaimed October 1956 Ella And Louis album — simply whets the palate for even greater things to come.

This new 180g 2LP reissue of Ella And Louis Again from Verve/UMe and Acoustic Sounds (which is made/pressed at QRP and has an SRP of $49.99) may actually surprise some of you. Musically, it is an essential link in the trilogy, effectively continuing where the pair left off on their first hit collaboration exactly a year earlier, and ultimately carried through to their stunning April 1959 masterpiece Porgy And Bess (which we’ll no doubt review when it eventually — hopefully! — gets reissued). If you missed my review of Ella And Louis back in mid-August, please go here to read it accordingly, as it provides much useful contextual background.


With regards to the vinyl-collecting marketplace of today, this new reissue of Ella And Louis Again is a much-needed solution for audiophile-leaning jazz fans the world over. If you’ve ever gone looking for original pressings of this record, you know that it is hard to find in any condition. Most times I’ve seen this album, it’s been in pretty bad shape and priced a bit high, all things considered — things like multiple seam splits and other cover-art wear, as well as vinyl that has been enjoyed a great deal. Ella And Louis Again was no doubt a popular record that its owners likely played on auto-repeat, probably on their then-new-fangled automatic stacking record changers of the time period. Thus, most OG copies you see show much wear and tear, and/or even fair amount of abuse from spins at perhaps one too many a party.

In all my years of collecting (and avidly so since the mid-’70s, when I was in junior high), I have only owned a copy of this album once, and it was admittedly in pretty mediocre condition — thus, it was purged at some point, probably when I downsized my collection upon moving back into San Francisco from suburbia. I’d yet to find a suitable replacement — well, until now, that is.


At this point, some of you may know my process in helping to justify the need for the existence of a good, quality reissue. Perusing Discogs for a handy snapshot of one key segment of the record-collecting universe, at the time of this posting, there were only eight original 1957 Ella And Louis Again albums listed for sale. Pricing began at $18 for a copy missing one disc (!) from this 2LP set, on up to $100 for the lone near mint copy listed.

Adding to the confusion, there are plenty of gray-market editions out there in the shops bearing questionable and/or inaccurate art, often offering even more dubious sonics due to questionable source material for making the records. Indeed, finding clean original U.S. pressings of Ella And Louis Again is a surprisingly elusive task!

All this record-collector babble would be moot if the music was anything less than great — but, indeed, the performances on Ella And Louis Again are sublime. One interesting difference compared to this album’s 1956 predecessor is that it is not entirely comprised of duets. Of the 19 cuts, only 12 feature the duo together.


I have no problem with this, mind you. In many ways, it is a great thing as a listening experience, because it gives you time to more fully appreciate each artist individually and collectively. It’s kind of like munching on some tasty trail mix while hiking — sure, you can enjoy gobbling handfuls of the stuff, but sometimes it’s more satisfying to just savor an almond, a raisin, or an M&M that might be mixed in. Likewise, those individual showcase pieces here make Ella and Louis’ moments together — such as on the frisky “Stompin’ At The Savoy” — all the more tasty.

On Ella And Louis Again, once again, our featured stars are backed by Oscar Peterson and his trio, this time including Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Louis Bellson on drums. To say they give the titular artists effective support is an understatement. The group is so finely attuned to one another and how to support singers they offer perfect backing. For example, listen to Herb Ellis’ little chordal flourishes on “These Foolish Things,” which add delightful musical texture while never interfering with Ella’s lead vocal.

Some of my favorites on Ella And Louis Again include the infectious duets on two George and Ira Gershwin classics, “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” and “Love Is Here To Stay.” Meanwhile, “Willow Weep For Me” is a sweet blues that gives Satchmo some solo space for his expert trumpet soloing.

It is worth noting Armstrong does play his horn far less on this album than on the prior release, seemingly intentionally to place focus on the duo’s vocals. That said, the band seems to rise to the occasion, and swings madly — to borrow a phrase from Duke Ellington — when Pops’ solo moment is ripe. Just listen to the opening swagger on the album’s final track, “Learnin’ The Blues” — Satchmo’s horn just soars from the get-go, and the band is right there with him.

The sound quality on Ella And Louis Again is generally excellent. I’m not sure if I’m projecting here, but it almost sounds like this recording might be a bit clearer than its predecessor — and that makes some sense, given inevitable improvements in recording technology and lessons learned from the prior sessions, which were done at the then-new Capitol Records studios in Hollywood.


The two Ella And Louis Again LPs in the set I’m reviewing here are thick, dark, quiet, and, most importantly (for me, at least), well-centered. Ryan K. Smith’s disc mastering is once again excellent, delivering a clean and punchy vinyl playback experience while sounding true to the release’s era.

In keeping with the tradition of other Verve/Acoustic Sounds reissues, the cover art is outstanding, and arguably better than the original editions. The thick cardboard and full-color artwork is beautifully laminated (more like original Impulse Records editions, frankly), so the presentation is exemplary. Each disc comes housed in an audiophile-grade plastic inner sleeve. The record labels are period-accurate, as they even made sure the fonts and layout of text on the label are spot-on correct. Only the publishing designations are different than the copies I’ve looked at online.

Honestly, I could go through every track and tell you how great each one is — because they are! But, at this point, I think you get the idea that Ella And Louis Again is an outstanding reissue of an outstanding album. It is an essential release if you are fan of either artist, or simply a fan of great vocal jazz. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s simpatico performances must be heard to be fully appreciated. But don’t just take it from me — get a copy of the new 180g 2LP Ella And Louis Again set in hand, and go listen for yourself!

(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.)

Music Direct Buy It Now



180 2LP (Verve/UMe/Acoustic Sounds)

Side A
1. Don’t Be That Way
2. Makin’ Whoopee
3. They All Laughed
4. Comes Love
5. Autumn In New York

Side B
1. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)
2. Stompin’ At The Savoy
3. I Won’t Dance
4. Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?

Side C
1. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
2. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
3. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
4. Willow Weep For Me
5. I’m Puttin’ All My Eggs In One Basket

Side D
1. A Fine Romance
2. Ill Wind
3. Love Is Here To Stay
4. I Get A Kick Out Of You
5. Learnin’ The Blues


Tom L's picture

for the 250-dollar, 300-gram version on purple and orange spatter vinyl.

(Just kidding!)

jazz's picture

of UHQR- and One Step-like releases is the bigger flats serious vinyl junkies need due to the 10 times per album bigger rack space needed for the needless hard cover boxes.

RinziRadio's picture

So I've loved all these albums since I was a lad, and had various UK reissues from the 70s growing up. I've got the Speaker's Corner reissue of the first Ella and Louis, but am seriously considering springing for the AP 45rpm as a more substantial upgrade than the AS 33. But a few years ago I picked up a mint MoFi double of Ella and Louis Again, which was definitely an improvement on my previous vinyl. BUT -- this record has always been plagued with excessive sibilance, it is on the Mo Fi, and I believe it is there on the OGs too. Has this latest version tamed that somewhat? You didn't mention it in your review, so I'm thinking the wizard Ryan K. Smith may have worked some magic. I do hope so. I like the second outing even more than the first.....

jazz's picture

I have all three and sibilance is similar on all of them. Just the typical unavoidable Satchmo sibilance, not too annoying for me personally.

The AP45, like for most Impulse and Verve reissues also here beats the AP33, but both beat the smiley EQ’ed Mofi by a much bigger margin. Great that with the AP33 now a better complete (like the Mofi) version is available.

RinziRadio's picture

Thanks jazz for answering my question. I will definitely be picking up the AP 33. Out of curiosity, have you by any chance heard the old AP45 Gil Evans Out of the Cool against the new AS33. I've read conflicting things about the sound on these two reissues, partly an issue of the new edition being cut from the actual master vs. the 45 which was cut from a copy (maybe). I have the older AP45 and am wondering whether to spring for the new AP33.

jazz's picture

I have the original, the Alto, the AP45 and the AP33. You can read in the former review here what I heard.

Fremer said the AP45 is from a tape copy, Chad himself denied that, he said, it’s just a different mastering. I later compared again and was a little more gracious with the AP45, but still liked the AP33 better. A difficult situation with this recording. If one has 4 releases, one still doesn’t exactly know which to listen to, as they have different strengths and weaknesses ;-)

I trust Fremer generally, just not so much in one regard. He seems to support AP‘s sales of new reissues and often rightfully states an example where the new one sounds better, but then wrongly implies that this is valid for the whole new series. Did so for AP 33 vs AP 45 and also vs. ORG 45. In fact in my experience, cases where the AP33 are better sounding than AP45 or ORG45 are the exception.

jazz's picture

listened again and you must be aware that with the AP33 you’ll have trombone distortion on the Flamingos track you don’t have with the AP45 and the original and as I heard to my surprise today, I also don’t have comparably anymore on the Alto. The AP33 sounds more spacious than the AP45, but the latter doesn’t sound soft and with clearly lacking transients to my ears today as MF stated in another review comment here. Anyway, the 33 is worth buying.

RinziRadio's picture

I hugely appreciate your detailed response to my question. Out of the Cool is a real favorite of mine, but having already spent $$$ on the 45 I really didn't want to fork out money again unless it was worth it - and I think from what you've said it is. And much as I appreciate the generally superior sound of 45 pressings, I really do prefer to be able to let the side play right through. One of the reasons (as well as the $$$$) I am hesitating on getting the Bill Evans box, though I suspect I will spring for it eventually.....

jazz's picture

the Evans titles would have to be recut again, which I think won’t happen for many years from AP. So yes, you’ll have to get this box ;-)

I fortunately have all those releases from the Fantasy 45 RPM series sold separately from 2003 on (for 49$ or so each I think), so yeah, you’ll pay more than double now, that’s the course of time unfortunately.

RinziRadio's picture

-- but of all the people to take my hard-earned cash, I am more than happy for it to be Chad. He has done so much for the record revival, and built an amazing business in the process. I have chatted with him a few times over the years (been a customer since the 90s). Last time I saw him was at a listening session with him and Fremer at a high-end audio salon here in LA before Covid - such a pleasure to talk to, and I love his passion for music. And thank you again, jazz, for all your most informative comments.

AnalogJ's picture

I have the MoFi. It was done during their Anadisc period. I don't recall that it had the 'smile EQ' of many of their earlier period records. I certainly have a good number of Anadiscs and 'smile EQ' was not part of them. They're sometimes flawed, but don't lump them in with, say, their The Beatles LPs.

jazz's picture

that Anadisc LP’s usually don’t have the kind and extent of smiley EQ as the previous series often had.

But if you listen to the above Ella Anadisc and compare it to the new or old AP, you’ll recognize a bloated bass and a not necessarily too strong and extended treble but a treble providing the upmost top end but not the texture below…which makes it less coherent sounding than the better reissues. I still filed this under smiley EQ, although I agree it’s a bit different than the old MFSL’s.

PeterPani's picture

One of the most beautiful songs of all time on this record.

RinziRadio's picture

This and Stomping at the Savoy are my two favorite Ella and Louis tracks.

PeterPani's picture

I own the original verve vinyl and original 2-track 7,5 ips r2r. The reel beats the vinyl in every aspect. Ella on tape sounds like sunset on Capri.

rich d's picture

I guess I didn't really need that fifty bucks. Anyone want my old MoFi copy? Perhaps I'll keep that too as I really love this record.

On the bright side I have a nice copy of Porgy & Bess so I won't have to buy the inevitable reissue. The dogs will get fed that week at least.

Diogo's picture

I own the Speakers Corner reissues of the three Verve Ella and Louis albums. So far the Acoustic Sounds reissues sound much better. Ella and Louis Again specifically is a huge difference, probably because Speakers didn't get access to a very good tape.
Looking forward to the Porgy and Bess AS reissue!