Louis Armstrong

The Best of the Hot Fives and Sevens

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Louis Armstrong's legendary quintet and septet recordings from the mid-'20s, known as the Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, may not exactly be ground zero for jazz, but they certainly mark the beginning of jazz as an American music of unique distinction, pointing out as they do the genre's immense possibilities and versatility, and in Armstrong, jazz had its first true public and enduring superstar. These tracks are by turns innovative, loose, tight, vigorous, and fun, and frequently all of these things at once, as Armstrong and company go about joyously setting up what would amount to the template for modern jazz. These sides are absolutely essential to any popular music collection and remain the cornerstone for any good jazz library. The Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings are easily available in various sets like this budget two-disc, 40-track package, although sonic properties can vary from collection to collection and often even from track to track, so serious audiophiles should seek out Columbia's 2000 release of The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings for the best available sound transfers. It takes a lot more than some cracks, snaps, and crackles to destroy the joy present in these historic sides, though.

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