Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five + One

The legendary Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five…

  • Edward “Kid” Ory – Trombone
  • Louis Armstrong – Cornet & Vocals
  • Johnny Dodds – Clarinet
  • Lil Hardin Armstrong – Piano
  • Johnny St. Cyr – 6-String Banjo

…made their first recordings – for OKeh Records, in Chicago, IL – on November 12, 1925.

This incalculably influential New Orleans Jazz quintet gathered to make their last recordings on December 13, 1927, again for OKeh and in Chicago.

However, on this day, the Hot Five added an equally hot sixth: Blues guitarist and fellow OKeh recording artist Lonnie Johnson.

Two tracks were cut at this December 13 session: “Hotter Than That,” a Lil Hardin Armstrong composition and “Savoy Blues” by Edward Ory.

In his liner notes to the Columbia/Legacy CD Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five And Hot Seven Recordings, Volume 3, Gary Giddens explains that “Hotter Than That” is “based on a strain of the New Orleans anthem ‘Tiger Rag.'”

He quite accurately describes the recording as being “a succession of marvels.”

My favorite part of this joyous performance comes at 1:55 when the scat-singing Armstrong and the acoustic 12-string-picking Johnson begin trading licks in a dazzling bit of call-and-response improvisation.

Give a listen for yourself!

 

In the same liner notes, Mr. Giddens offers this assessment of “Savoy Blues.”

“It begins with a zany oom-pah figure, accenting first and third beats and suggesting a countryish air emphasized by Louis’s opening solo and the commiserating ensemble. Then Johnson plays a four-bar transition, changing the time to a jazzy four and triggering an episode by the two guitarists that has the effect of crossing a period blues record with a cutting edge jazz disc.”

Whew! Guess you better check it out! (That four-bar transition starts at :53.)

 

“Hotter Than That” b/w “Savoy Blues” by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five was released in 1928 by OKeh Records on a 10-inch, 78 rpm disc, #8535. On the record label, “Hotter Than That” was identified as being a “Fox Trot.”

As my motto says…”Good music doesn’t get old.”

Do you agree?

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