Tuesday, July 19, 2011


YEAR: 1925 - 1928

LABEL: Okeh/reissued on Columbia

TRACK LISTING: My Heart, Yes! I'm In the Barrel, Gut Bucket Blues, Come Back Sweet Papa, Georgia Grind, Heebie Jeebies, Cornet Chop Suey, Oriental Strut, You're Next, Muskrat Ramble, Don't Forget To Mess Around, I'm Gonna Gitcha, Droppin' Shucks, Who'sit, King of the Zulus, Big Fat Ma and Skinny Pa, Lonesome Blues, Sweet Little Papa, Jazz Lips, Skid-Dat-De-Dat, Big Butter and Egg Man, Sunset Cafe Stomp, You Made Me Love You, Irish Black Bottom, Willie the Weeper, Wild Man Blues, Chicago Breakdown, Alligator Crawl, Potato Head Blues, Melancholy, Weary Blues, Twelfth Street Rag, Keyhole Blues, S.O.L. Blues, Gully Low Blues, That's When I'll Come Back To You, Put 'Em Down Blues, Ory's Creole Trombone, The Last Time, Struttin' With Some Barbecue, Got No Blues, Once In A While, I'm Not Rough, Hotter Than That, Savoy Blues, Fireworks, Skip the Gutter, A Monday Date, Don't Jive Me, West End Blues, Sugar Foot Strut, Two Deuces, Squeeze Me, Knee Drops, No (Papa No), Basin Street Blues, No One Else But You, Beau Koo Jack, Save It Pretty Mama, Weather Bird, Muggles, Hear Me Talkin' To Ya, St. James Infirmary, Tight Like This

IMPRESSIONS: Not an exaggeration to call these recordings "the Rosetta Stone of Jazz. There are probably no more important recordings in the music's history. Louis Armstrong has always been a particular favourite of mine as the mere sound of one of his recordings lifts me up with a sense of musical elation very rare in the vast catalogue of music. Only a few artists have that ability and Pops is one of the biggest. No matter how many times I hear "West End Blues" I remain astonished and thrilled by the inevitable goosebumps. Every vocalist (with the exception of opera singers) who came after him owes Louis Armstrong for the way they sing; no matter what genre or style of music from jazz vocalists to rock singers, from country crooners to heavy metal monsters -- everyone sings the way they do because of Pops. And that's not to mention the monumental influence he's had on the music. That silly tendency 10 years ago to proclaim the "artist of the decade" focused on Elvis or Sinatra when it is Louis Armstrong alone who can claim that title.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: West End Blues, West End Blues and. . .oh yeah. . .West End Blues. Oh yeah and then there's always Heebie Jeebies, Cornet Chop Suey, Oriental Strut, King of the Zulus, Wild Man Blues, Alligator Crawl, Potato Head Blues, Melancholy, S.O.L. Blues, Struttin' With Some Barbecue, I'm Not Rough, Hotter Than That, Fireworks, West End Blues, Weather Bird, Muggles, St. James Infirmary, Tight Like This

GUEST ARTISTS: Lonnie Johnson plays guitar on "I'm Not Rough", "Hotter Than That" and "Savoy Blues"

FACT SHEET: The Hot Five was the first band led by Louis Armstrong in the recording studio. The recordings he made with the Hot Five and subsequent Hot Seven literally changed the face of Jazz by transforming it into a soloist's art, by introducing individual solo improvisation to records, by inventing scat singing (on "Heebie Jeebies") and by leaving behind the New Orleans tradition of Jazz in favour of a new "swing" tempo. All this and much more originated with these records. Louis and his band recorded multiple sessions at the Okeh Recording Studios beginning in 1925 through 1928. The members of the original Hot Five were Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), "Mrs. Armstrong" Lil Hardin (piano) and Johnny St. Cyr (banjo). In 1927, Louis replaced some members with musicians from the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra (with whom Louis had recently been playing): Pete Briggs (tuba), Baby Dodds (drums), John Thomas (trombone), Lil Hardin (piano) and Johnny Dodds (clarinet). A revamped 1928 Hot Five would change the entire membership culled from the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra (with whom Louis had been recently performing): Earl Hines (piano), Fred Robinson (trombone), Jimmy Strong (clarinet & tenor saxophone), Mancy Cara (banjo) and Zutty Singleton (drums). In May 1927 Louis Armstrong also instituted his Hot Seven lineup which featured Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Lil Hardin (piano), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), Baby Dodds (drums), Pete Briggs (tuba) and John Thomas (trombone).

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