Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives(and Sevens)

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives
In the world of jazz there are many types and flavors and of all of those types and flavors my favorite has got to be Hot Jazz. Hot Jazz is known for it’s loud upbeat sound, with room for much improvisation. In the old days practically all of it’s performers were from the New Orleans region although many made their names while playing in the Chicago area. Perhaps the best(and more recorded) representation of Hot Jazz is Louis Armstrong’s first band to play under his lead, Hot Fives. Louis Armstrong was a New Orleans native and through the years his performances came to set the bar for all Hot Jazz acts to follow.

After playing for a few years with some of the biggest names of early jazz (Kid Ory, King Oliver, etc) Louis Armstrong was ready to lead a band of his own. In 1925 Richard Jones of Okeh Records suggested to Louis that he start a band of his own. Soon after not only were Hot Fives born but a relationship with the band and Okeh records that would result in Okeh releasing all of their records for the life of the band. One of the things I find unique about Hot Fives is that they were primarily a studio bad, I haven’t heard of too many studio only bands from that time period. They only played a couple official live shows and both were Okeh events.

Perhaps it was because they didn’t have to bother touring or maybe because they were simply driven by the cause but Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives pumped out a ton of recordings. At this point I should note that around this period Louis also had another band that he played with called Hot Sevens. Hot Sevens had a few members from Hot Fives in addition to a couple more. Usually when discussing the Hot Fives the Hot Sevens are thrown in as well. Their sound was pretty much the same. They was also recorded exclusively by Okeh under the same deal. That’s why when people talk about these bands the two are often lumped together. Even when buying Hot Fives records typically the Hot Sevens stuff is included too. And after listening to this stuff for some time now heck if I could tell you which tracks are Hot fives and which are Hot Sevens on a given record.

The impact and popularity of the Hot Fives recordings on the early jazz community cannot be understated. They’ve been featured on countless compilations since and will surely be in more in the years to come. So much has stemmed not just from them but from the Hot Jazz sub-genre they came to speer head. If you enjoy early jazz you should really check them out.

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