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A limited release of 300 LPs on vinyl were copied from the press club for those in attendance. Over 40 years, they were largely forgotten.

“Most of them vanished into attics, garages and basements,” said press club President Theresa Werner.

Chris Royal, the music department chairman at Howard University and a fellow trumpet player, heard the recording for the first time this week after it was released on CD, iTunes and Amazon.com.

“It pops,” he said. “Just the way he played up until the end.”

Armstrong is often credited with being the inventor of the jazz solos, Royal said. Before then, there had been more focus on group improvisation. He broke racial barriers with his broad appeal and was an ambassador from the U.S. to the world through jazz, Royal said.

The nonprofit Smithsonian Folkway Recordings released Armstrong’s recording this week after collaborating for years with the press club and the Louis Armstrong Foundation to sort out rights to the tunes. The new album comes with 30 of Armstrong’s favorite Louisiana recipes, which were served at the press club when he performed.

William McCarren, the press club’s director, found one of the old records in the club’s archive still wrapped in plastic. When he and others at the club bought a record player and heard how good it sounded, they started thinking about how to release it to a wider audience.

“There was just something kind of wrong about the idea that 300 people … heard this record and heard the concert and then nobody heard it for 40 years,” he said.

On Friday, the album was among the five highest-selling jazz albums on iTunes and Amazon.

Armstrong played trumpet in only two songs. But he also offered up some spirited singing, scat and stories for the audience. One special moment is his “Boy from New Orleans,” which he only really sang toward the end of his life.

“I wanted the neighborhood to be proud of their Louis,” he sang. “Now all through the years, folks I’ve had a ball. Oh, thank you Lord. And I want to thank you all. You were very kind to old Satchmo… Just a boy from New Orleans.”

In retrospect, knowing that it was the end of his life, Riccardi said it does sound like a goodbye “and one final thank you to the fans who made him what he was.”

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Smithsonian Folkway Recordings: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid3370

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