Louis Armstrong was one of jazz's greatest names, long recognised as a great innovator as well as a populariser. His recordings with his Hot 7s and Hot 5s in the 20s and 30s are regarded as some of the most important of the 20th Century. In the following years his peerless trumpet playing and vocal talent took him to the top of the pop charts. He signed to Flying Dutchman to make the album "And His Friends". Label-owner Bob Thiele wrote his big hit of 1968, 'What A Wonderful World'.
Thiele designed this album as a celebration of Armstrong's 70th birthday, (although his date of birth, given as 4 July 1900 in the liner notes to the LP, is now questioned in several sources) throwing a large party for him in the studio at the start of three sessions which began on 26 May 1970. This explains how the album's opening track, 'We Shall Overcome', features a chorus sung by, amongst many others, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Leon Thomas.