Louis Armstrong West End Blues - The Very Best Of The Hot Fives And Sevens

Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens sides have been called the most important music of the 20th century. They changed the shape of jazz and, subsequently, popular music by changing the emphasis to the solo, for one thing. And the popularity of these 78s helped to break down some racial barriers, providing a toehold for the equal rights strides made later in the '50s and '60s. Armstrong recorded nearly 90 tracks in Chicago, with small combos in the early and mid-'20s; 15 of the best are collected here. "Heebie Jeebies" was the first popular recording to feature scat singing and tracks like "Twelfth Street Rag," a mesmerising mid-tempo number, sound as fresh as anything - strike that, fresher than anything released in the last year. None of the tracks are saddled with the Merrie Melodies quaintness often associated with '20s jazz. It's all vital and visceral, and Satch's trumpet in particular is potent and assured. There's no mistaking the genius at work. The sound quality is somewhat variable - it was mastered from 78s, after all - but the surface noise is never unbearable and the horns punch through with surprising and invigorating strength. Phenomenal stuff indeed. (Music Club)