Recorded in Chicago in the middle of the Roaring Twenties at the jazz label Okeh's primitive mobile recording studio, Louis Armstrong's debut as a bandleader is a milestone in jazz history. Solely a recording band, the Hot Five was formed at the behest of Armstrong's wife Lil, probably as a showcase for her new husband's talents. As can be heard here, Armstrong was quick to take control.
His playing and personality dominate throughout this innovative set. From the opening track, "My Heart," his cornet is by turns pioneering, playful, and authoritative, and cuts through even in a line up that includes talents such as Kid Ory and Sidney Bechet. Armstrong's vocal on "Heebie Jeebies" is credited with being the first recorded example of scat singing, while the band's use of the "stop time" technique, in which they accent the first beat of every bar then lay out while a solo plays over the gaps, was unequalled in its day. As was Armstrong's cornet playing--like Jimi Hendrix's '60s guitar, it now sounds familiar simply because it has since been so often imitated. This budget set is an essential item for anyone remotely interested in jazz and jazz history.