Louis Armstrong (1901–1971) | Kids Music Corner
Louis Armstrong - : : : Traditional Jazz
Johnny St Cyr was one of the finest banjo and guitarists to emerge from New Orleans. As well as being a good rhythm player (he provided half of the rhythm section with Miss Lil) he was also a creative and inventive soloist.
Of the Hot Fives, mention must be made of "Heebie Jeebies" which has a fine scat vocal as well as a superb cornet solo. The first test piece "Cornet Chop Suey", finds Armstrong playing some really imaginative breaks, soloing brilliantly and blowing a fine lead.
With altered personnel (Ory was missing) and Baby Dodds added on choke cymbal, Pete Briggs on brass bass, the Louis Armstrong Hot Sevens were recorded over several dates in 1927. There are no bad sides amongst these sessions, each one is a classic. The Hot Sevens find Louis increasingly pushed to the forefront as far as solos are concerned. The Blues solo on "Wild Man Blues" has some terrific breaks where Armstrong launches into double time."Willie The Weeper" has a soaring cornet played across Baby Dodds off beat cymbal.
It is "Potato Head Blues", however which is regarded as the absolute classic. Louis solo is perfectly constructed and builds upon a logical foundation, again over a stop time rhythm.
A final Hot Five session, this time with blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson added to the ensemble followed.
By this time Louis was leaving the ensemble style of playing behind and the focus is on the soloist. "Savoy Blues"starts with a cornet solo as opposed to the full band."Hotter Than That" is magnificent, with Louis first dueting vocally with Johnson, and then with the cornet. "Once in A While with its strange stop time solo, which ends the side, is another outstanding example of Armstrong's talents, still on an upward spiral.
By the early part of 1928, Louis had ditched his New Orleans colleagues, and his wife on recording dates, choosing to record with an inferior line up from the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. Inferior except for the pianist, Earl Fatha Hines and the drummer, one of the greatest New Orleans percussionists, Zutty Singleton. In Hines, Louis found a kindred spirit - a soloist who was on the same wavelength. Of the collaborations made by this new band, which still recorded under the title "Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five", the outstanding tracks are "West End Blues" with its amazingly fresh and difficult cornet introduction, and "Fireworks".
By this time, Louis had forsaken the cornet for the trumpet. The first recording of "Basin St. Blues" was recorded in December 1928. The number was to remain in Louis repertoire for the rest of his career. The remarkable duet of piano & trumpet on "Weatherbird", which Louis had recorded with Oliver in 1923 finds, Armstrong and Hines throwing phrases at each other, each responding to the ideas spawned, so it seems a few bars earlier.
New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport
By 1925 Armstrong had attracted the attention of OKEH records, who invited him to cut a series of hot Jazz discs, which were aimed at the then described "Race" audience. Using a hand picked band of New Orleans musicians plus his wife, Lil, on piano, the Louis Armstrong's Hot Five was born.
The records became classics, each number a gem. Every performance stretched the contests imagination further. It is fair to say that they are not perfect. Nearly every track has a blemish, a fluffed note, a break missed. No matter, this was real Jazz at the cutting edge, and Jazz has never been a perfect art. Although the Hot Five's were Louis Showcase, great credit must be afforded to the sidemen.