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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Complete Hot Five & Hot Seven

Essential Jazz Classics



Disc 1:

1. Gut Bucket Blues

2. My Heart

3. Yes! I’m in a Barrel

4. Come Back, Sweet Papa

5. Georgia Grind

6. Heebie Jeebies

7. Cornet Chop Suey

8. Oriental Strut

9. You’re Next

10. Muskrat Ramble

11. Don’t Forget to Mess Around

12. I’m Gonna Gitcha

13. Droppin’ Shucks

14. Who’sit

15. King of the Zulus

16. Big Fat Ma and Skinny Pa

17. Lonesome Blues

18. Sweet Little Papa

19. Jazz Lips

20. Skid-dat-de-dat

21. Big Butter and Egg Man

22. Sunset Café Stomp

23. You Made Me Love You

24. Irish Black Bottom

25. Put ’em Down Blues

26. Ory’s Creole Trombone

27. The Last Time

Disc 2:

1. Struttin’ with Some Barbecue

2. Got No Blues

3. Once in a While

4. I’m Not Rough

5. Hotter Than That

6. Savoy Blues

7. Georgia Bo Bo

8. Drop That Sack

9. Drop That Sack

10. Willie the Weeper

11. Wild Man Blues

12. Alligator Crawl

13. Potato Head Blues

14. Melancholy

15. Weary Blues

16. Twelfth Street Rag

17. Keyhole Blues

18. S.O.L. Blues

19. Gully Low Blues

20. That’s When I’ll Come Back to You

21. Chicago Breakdown

22. Weary Blues

23. New Orleans Stomp

24. Wild Man Blues

25. Wild Man Blues

Disc 3:

1. Melancholy

2. Melancholy

3. Fireworks

4. Skip the Gutter

5. A Monday Date

6. Don’t Jive Me

7. West End Blues

8. Sugar Foot Strut

9. Two Deuces

10. Squeeze Me

11. Knee Drops

12. No (Papa, No)

13. Basin Street Blues

14. No One Else but You

15. Beau Koo Jack

16. Save It, Pretty Mama

17. Muggles

18. Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya

19. St. James Infirmary

20. Tight like This

21. Weather Bird

22. Symphonic Raps

23. Savoyagers Stomp

24. Mahogany Hall Stomp

Disc 4:

1. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love

2. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love

3. Knockin’ a Jug

4. Gambler’s Dream

5. Sunshine Baby

6. Adam and Eve Had the Blues

7. Put It Where I Can Get It

8. Wash Woman Blues

9. I’ve Stopped My Man

10. Static Strut

11. Stomp off, Let’s Go

12. He Likes It Slow

13. Easy Come Easy Go Blues

14. The Blues Stampede

15. I’m Goin’ Huntin’

16. If You Wanna Be My Sugar Papa

17. You’re a Real Sweetheart

18. Too Busy

19. Was It a Dream?

20. Last Night I Dreamed You Kissed Me

21. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love

22. Baby

23. Sweethearts on Parade

24. I Must Have That Man

25. Funny Feathers

26. How Do You Want It That Way?

Recording dates vary between Nov. 12, 1925 and July 10, 1929. Precise date for each track is given in the booklet

Musical Groups:

Too many different personnel to list all (those for each selection given in the booklet), but Louis Armstrong on all tracks with each of the following groups or with the individual:

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven

Louis Armstrong and the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra

Johnny Dodds Black Bottom Stompers

Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines (duet)

Carroll Dickerson’s Savoyagers

Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra

Hociel Thomas with Louis Armstrong Jazz Four

Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra

Joe “Butterbeans” Edwards and Susie Edwards accompanied by Louis Armstrong Hot Five

Jimmy Bertrand’s Washboard Wizards

Lillie Delk Christian with Louis Armstrong Hot Four

Victoria Spivey (vocalist)

It seems as if everybody and his brother has had a go at issuing CDs of the Armstrong Hot Fives and Sevens. While not all have professed to be “complete” issues, some have, including sets by Columbia, JSP (which includes transfers done by the master John R. T. Davies), and Sony. In between came single CDs and CD sets that include Hot Five and Seven recordings, some claiming to be the “Best of Hot Fives and Sevens” or “Best of Louis Armstrong” etc. And some have been withdrawn. As if all that were not enough, complicating the matter is that that some of the original 78 recordings, it seems, were of dubious speed, resulting in pitch problems that were left uncorrected (perhaps undetected) on the LP reissue, resulting in some tunes appearing to be played in the “wrong” key. During the transfers of these LPs to CD there was no immediate correction of the pitch problems, and in addition some were made from 78 records rather than the master discs, resulting in a good deal of surface noise remaining. So it is a relatively convoluted issue, and if one is interested in delving more into the subject, he or she can find a good analysis in the blog The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong: So You Wanna Buy the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens? at the website <>. The blog is that of Ricky Riccardi, the archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City and author of several articles on Armstrong and the book What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years . Since the blog was written prior to the issuance of this Essential Jazz Classics set, it is not considered therein.

This latest addition to the Hot Five and Seven list, the “complete” 4-CD set by Essential Jazz Classics, includes all the Hot Five and Seven material together with that made under the pseudonym “Lil’s Hot Shots” containing the same personnel, supplemented by other recordings in the same vein from the 1920s of Armstrong accompanied by four to six other musicians. To fill out the four CDs, included are a few recordings by larger bands, all from the same period and featuring Armstrong. No mention is made of the source(s) of the recordings reproduced in this set, and no information is given about any remastering, transfers, or of any of the other technicalities.

As to the music itself, there is not much to say that has not been said already. Armstrong was still in his twenties and his work from this period indicates a confidant, mature, extremely talented musician—and vocalist—one who has had arguably the most telling influence on all jazz music and the direction it took from then on, solos gaining the emphasis over ensemble . The recordings in these four CDs are iconic, and everyone who considers himself or herself a jazz fan should—and probably already does—have them in his or her collection. Lacking such, one will certainly find this set will remedy that deficiency. Still, I am left with the question: Why did the Essential Jazz Classic people go to the trouble of issuing this set when the market will be so limited and there are so many others, withdrawn or not, still available as a check on eBay or Amazon will reveal?

Bert Thompson

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