Collector’s Corner

Classic Hot Jazz Set


In 1922, Louis Armstrong left his beloved New Orleans and traveled up the river to Chicago to play 2nd cornet in Joe "King" Oliver's septet. Louis Armstrong And King Oliver (Milestone) is a terrific set of Hot Jazz, plus six cuts of Armstrong with the Red Onion Jazz Babies, featuring Sidney Bechet and Alberta Hunter.

The two bands are not only stylistically linked but shared the same pianist, a young woman named Lil Hardin -- the future Mrs. Armstrong.

The Oliver sides include classics like "Dipper Mouth Blues," noted for Oliver's solo, and the hard swinging "Alligator Hop." "Riverside Blues" contains one of Armstrong's and Oliver's famous duet breaks, 2-line improvisations they created by plotting them literally minutes before while the rest of the band played around them.

Modern ears may find it difficult to connect with music recorded under what now would be considered primitive techniques. Gunther Schuller, noted jazz composer, conductor and historian, sees a positive aspect to the dated monophonic sound. Aside from the pleasure of a nostalgic evocation of a bygone time, he suggests that stereo would unravel the carefully arranged polyphony of Oliver's arrangements, which were unmatched in the era of collective improvisation.

in this playlist.