Louis Armstrong's Hot Five was the most influential jazz band of the mid-'20s. The first volume of Armstrong's complete works reissued by Classics followed this group's trail of recordings from November of 1925 through those made almost exactly one year later. Opening this second volume of vintage Armstrong, the Hot Five's last three records of 1926 are peppered with hot vocals intended to entertain and amuse. May Alix shouts the lyrics to "Sunset Cafe Stomp" and Armstrong puts across an interesting tune referencing two downtrodden ethnic groups, Irish and Afro-American. "You Made Me Love You" is not the venerable vaudeville number recorded by Al Jolson in 1913, but a punchy Armstrong original similar to the quaint syncopated love songs he had cooked up with Lil Hardin when they were still working for King Oliver. In May 1927 Armstrong expanded his ensemble for the first time to become the Hot Seven. The addition of Pete Briggs on tuba and Baby Dodds at the drums resulted in a full-bodied sound that made "Willie the Weeper" and "Potato Head Blues" so remarkably and enduringly potent. Armstrong's version of Fats Waller's "Alligator Crawl" is a miracle of perfect timing and immaculate ease. If Lil Hardin Armstrong's references to domestic violence seem a bit reckless during "That's When I'll Come Back to You," listeners should be advised that Afro-American music has always caused consternation by openly referring to topics usually swept under the rug. During the autumn and winter of 1927 Armstrong scaled his band back to five pieces, revisiting Kid Ory's 1922 novelty rag "Ory's Creole Trombone," adding a sixth player in guitarist Lonnie Johnson on "I'm Not Rough," and introducing to the world one of Lil Hardin Armstrong's all-time greatest compositions, "Struttin' with Some Barbecue."
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf