One of five Living Era Louis Armstrong retrospectives, this compilation parallels and overlaps with another volume in the series which was issued practically on top of this one in 1995. Hot Fives & Hot Sevens and 25 Greatest Hot Fives and Sevens have 11 tracks in common, which is enough duplication to make some people shy away from owning both. Naturally, those who love this music with body and soul will think differently. Which is better? They both are. Hot Fives & Hot Sevens, it must be said, is laid out with chronologic precision, and while it does not contain every single title recorded between May 7, 1927 and June 27, 1928, the temporal progression paints a pretty picture of this trumpeter's progress. Beautifully remastered and lovingly presented, these 22 classic performances are essential to the very foundation of the jazz tradition. All of Armstrong's early recordings have been reissued with varying success; Living Era's overview approach works well for this great musician, although the eleven title redundancy between two simultaneously released Armstrong compilations is frankly puzzling. Happily, this music is so wonderful and indispensable that having more than one recording of "Alligator Crawl" or "Potato Head Blues" will feel to some like a blessing rather than a drawback. One can never have enough Louis Armstrong. All we can do is try.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf