To say that the performances on this CD (plus the ones on volumes two through four) are classic would be an extreme understatement. With these first 16 recordings by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, the trumpeter revolutionized jazz, changing it from an ensemble-oriented music into an art form dominated by virtuoso soloists. The most powerful jazz improviser of the 1920s, Louis Armstrong's beautiful tone, his sense of swing (which set the stage for the big band era), and his chance-taking yet melodic improvisations amazed his contemporaries and permanently altered the future of jazz. Among the many gems on this first volume are "Come Back, Sweet Papa," "Heebies Jeebies" (which is highlighted by Armstrong's highly influential scat vocal), the brilliant "Cornet Chop Suey," the debut of Kid Ory's "Muskrat Ramble," and the joyous "Don't Forget to Mess Around." With clarinetist Johnny Dodds (the pacesetter on his instrument), trombonist Kid Ory, pianist Lil Armstrong, and banjoist Johnny St. Cyr all making strong contributions, the music is consistently memorable and innovative.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow