Review

LOUIS ARMSTRONG The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume I: Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five

Album · 1951 · Classic (1920s) Jazz
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5/5 ·
js
Not only is this some of the finest classic jazz you can find on vinyl, but this record is a great snapshot of how jazz was developing in the 1920s. As jazz was progressing from the early New Orleans style of constant ensemble based polyphonic improvisation and towards a swing style that would feature star soloists on top of an ensemble that supplied supporting pre-arranged riffs, Louis Armstrong was leading the way. The first side of this album was recorded in 1925, and the second in 1927, and what a difference just two years would make in this time of rapid development in jazz.

Side one is a step towards swing; the soloists, such as Armstrong and clarenetist Johnny Dodd, are upfront and center and displaying the new virtuoso solo style of the time, but the ensemble stills has the sound and persistent rhythms of early jazz. On side two the transformation towards swing continues as the rhythms relax and ‘swing’ more. The overall sound is more urban and sophisticated and the soloists are mixed even more up front as their ability to solo increases.

Anyway, enough about musicology, this is also one hell of a fun party record old school style. The joy and enthusiasm in Louis and his band’s playing is contagious and never fails to lighten your mood. This is also the record where Armstrong introduced his beloved humorous scat singing on the big hit ‘Heebie Jeebies’, with nonsense syllables like skat, dat, de and so on. This record is highly recommended for people who like real jazz.
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