Louis Armstrong: Hotter Than That


Hotter Than That


Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five


The Hot Fives And Hot Sevens, Volume III (Columbia 44422)

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Louis Armstrong (cornet, vocals), Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Lil Hardin (piano), Lonnie Johnson (guitar), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo).

Composed by Lil Hardin


Recorded: Chicago, IL, December 13, 1927


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

The fiery “Hotter Than That” is one of Louis Armstrong’s masterpieces. Played at a flying tempo, Armstrong soars while most of his band-mates can barely get off the ground. The opening trumpet solo is a brilliant example of developing a melodic idea, all with a dynamic sound and sophisticated swing. Lonnie Johnson, guesting with the Hot Five, was clearly a student of Armstrong’s innovations, and he accompanies Armstrong’s magnificent scat solo. Armstrong’s advanced rhythmic sense is in full display as he sings behind the beat and then intensifies the rhythm with a brilliant series of dotted quarter notes which get further and further off the beat. (Later, Armstrong ties his solo work together by alluding to those dotted quarters in his final trumpet solo!) Also of note are Armstrong’s scat syllables: he uses “rip” several times, each time with an ascending glissando (the term is now commonly used for that melodic device), and he even improvises the term “bebop” which became the name of the jazz movement in the 1940s. Louis Armstrong may not have invented scat singing, but he remains one of its greatest exponents.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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