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181 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Jazz
This four disc set is indispensable to any serious jazz collection. It includes all Armstrong's classic Hot Five performances with Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and Lil Armstrong, his Hot Seven recordings, and his magnificent partnership with Earl Hines. This is some of the most important and influential jazz every recorded, marking the way ahead away from New...
Published on November 24, 1999 by B. D. Tutt

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100 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Music is cornerstone...but the sonics? Mixed feelings.
I'm not going to labor on the fact that this music is fantastic, cornerstone of jazz, indispensible, blah, blah, blah. We all already know that. I want to talk about the sonic quality of these recordings.

I read so much about this John RT Davies guy, who mastered this box set. I heard so many positive things about his skills, particularly in this boxed set,...
Published on February 8, 2007 by Comic Online


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181 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Jazz, November 24, 1999
By 
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
This four disc set is indispensable to any serious jazz collection. It includes all Armstrong's classic Hot Five performances with Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and Lil Armstrong, his Hot Seven recordings, and his magnificent partnership with Earl Hines. This is some of the most important and influential jazz every recorded, marking the way ahead away from New Orleans style polyphony to the future dominance of the soloist. The last of these discs is the least essential, as Armstrong returned to commercial big band recordings, where he is often head and shoulders above both his colleagues and his material.
There is so much to savour on these discs: Louis is superlative throughout this set - hear "Cornet Chop Suey" "Potato Head Blues" and "West End Blues", in particular. Johnny Dodds is superb, incredibly impassioned on "Got No Blues" and elsewhere. The Hot Five swings like crazy on tunes like "Once in a While", and listen to "Skip the Gutter", "Muggles" and "Weatherbird" to hear one of the finest partnerships in jazz history, Armstrong and Hines. Hear also Lonnie Johnson's marvellous guitar playing at the end of the second disc. Louis' singing is heard regularly (and his slide - whistle playing once).
These CDs are also highly recommendable because of the quality of the remastering. The sound quality on the first disc in particular is better than in any other issue of these works, putting larger companies to shame.
These are recordings to hear for a lifetime. No-one buying these will ever regret it.
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82 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIVE STARS ARE NOT ENOUGH, November 9, 2000
By 
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
I've been listening to this music for sixty years, from wax to LP and CD, and through all known versions, and JSP's is the clearest ever, even better than the French LPs of years past. What's best, aside from the tone of Louis's horn, which is captured as if you stand outside his livingroom window with the window open, is that the surrounding instruments now have a timbre and immediacy that raises them from dullishness. These truly are musicians seeking great tone. Kid Ory's trombone is freshly poured wine. And what delight when Earl Hines's sophisticated fingering replaces Lil Hardin's workaday piano. To be sure, on the first two or three records, the bell of Louis's cornet is too close to the mike and rather blurry. Then he stands back and his tone comes into focus. Also the engineering improves. You may think you know these records, say from the muzzy Columbia set, but you don't. This is dying and going to heaven where the Hot Fives and Sevens are recording just for you. Incidentally, Louis's lyrics are understandable throughout where once one simply had to guess at what the words were. All told, thrilling, and at this price unbelievable---money found on the street. Do not wait for the Ken Burns's version which Columbia is issuing to go with his 19-hour jazz historical on PBS. It can't be better than this.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Pop Music, August 14, 2000
By 
James J. McGaw (Portsmouth, RI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
Simply put, these are the most important popular recordings of the 20th century. They paved the way for not only jazz, but popular music in general. A note to those who haven't yet purchased any of Satchmo's Hot Fives or Sevens --THIS package is the one to get! Avoid the recordings on Columbia, which did a disgraceful job of remastering. I doubt Columbia's new box set coming out this month will be much better. These JSPs are so superior to the Columbias that they sound almost like completely different recordings. One customer's review, complaining about poor sound quality, is absurd. Obviously, he doesn't listen to much pre-Beatles music. The sound is excellent for the times. [...] Buy it -- it will be the greatest thing in your collection.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true "King of Jazz", October 1, 2002
By 
nadav haber (jerusalem Israel) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
This special priced set has all the recordings of Louis Armstrong with his Hot Fives and Sevens. I had them all on LP and considered them the pinnacle of my music collection, and the pinnacle of 20th century music in general.
These recordings feature Armstrong in a period when his trumpet playing received more attention than his singing. He did sing beautifully - as heard on "I am not Rough", "Gully Low Blues" etc. But the trumpet does lead the way. The trumpet on "Tight like That", "West End Blues", "Potatoe head Blues" - what a musical genius it took to produce such music !!! I feel that these recordings have the power to change people's whole view of life - it certainly changed mine.
There are guest appearances by the great blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, great clarinet from Johnny Dodds, great piano work by Earl Hines, great ensamble playing. I use the word "great" here without fear of misuse - everything here is truly great.
People who are used to Armstrong's later work - Hello Dolly, Blueberry Hill - might need some time to get used to these 1920's recordings. I strongly advise them to make the effort - because the rewards are fantastic.
All tracks are great. I do feel like singling out "Tight like That", "West End Blues", "Potato head blues", "Muggles"
"Mahagoney Hall Stomp", "Cornet Chop Suey", "Hotter Than That"...
I play them to my 4 years old child and she loves it !
The historic importance of these recordings has been correctly mentioned by others. But what it really comes down to is that here is a gift to humanity that we should all share and enjoy.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satch never sounded so good!, December 16, 2002
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
If you're in the market for some classic Louis Armstrong (and even if you're not!) get this set! Finally, all of Louis Armstrong's classic Hot 5's and Hot 7's (with existing alternates and some extras) are collected in stunning sound quality. Even though I already owned the Columbia set of these recordings, when I heard John R. T. Davies and JSP Records were offering this set, I hurried to buy my copy. At slightly more than six dollars per disc, it's a remarkable value! And the sound...
Unlike the folks at Columbia, who tried to remove every last trace of surface noise--often at the expense of losing the sharpness or clarity of the original recording, John R. T. Davies in restoring this set has allowed a little surface noise from the original records to remain in the final CD's. What you get, though, is unbelievable clarity and "presence" that is otherwise lost. The engineers at OKeh Records were top-notch in the 1920s and managed to capture Louis's rich, full-bodied tone. Happily, John R. T. Davies was able to bring out all those sparkling highs and warm, mellow lows from the old records for this set. The Columbia discs sound dull and lifeless next to these.
Keep in mind that these sides were recorded 75 years ago. If you absolutely detest the sound of record surface noise, and and are willing to put up with muffled, dampened sound, you may be better off with the Columbia discs, but if you don't mind the occasional light crackle, you will be well rewarded clarity and brilliance beyond any previous issues of these recordings.
One final comment: if you plan on reading the excellent liner notes that go along with this set, shop around for a good magnifying glass. Fortunately, I have good eyesight, but by the time I finished reading the liner notes, my eyes hurt. The print is tiny!
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100 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Music is cornerstone...but the sonics? Mixed feelings., February 8, 2007
By 
Comic Online (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
I'm not going to labor on the fact that this music is fantastic, cornerstone of jazz, indispensible, blah, blah, blah. We all already know that. I want to talk about the sonic quality of these recordings.

I read so much about this John RT Davies guy, who mastered this box set. I heard so many positive things about his skills, particularly in this boxed set, and how the sound is allegedly far superior to the Columbia version. I had to get BOTH to compare. I bought this JSP box set, and the newly revised 2006 edition of the Hot sessions released by Columbia/Legacy/Sony/BMG (the official edition).

The late John RT Davies, who mastered this JSP set is considered so good, that people on Amazon claimed that he mastered this collection from old 78s better than the engineers at Columbia, using the original masters (owned EXCLUSIVELY by Columbia.) Heck, RCA & Columbia thought he was good, as i've seen his name adorning very LEGAL pressings of all sorts of old jazz under the RCA & Columbia labels, right here in the U.S.A. So, he certainly had some clout, and some talent.

Unlike almost every reviewer on here, i do not consider the JSP box set to sound better than the official Columbia release (2006 version). However, i still think it sounds pretty good. There is something important to consider. While Davies is considered a true master at...well, remastering, his work at JSP comes up flawed, because he did not have access to the original masters, which are safely secured in Sony/Columbia/Legacy's vaults. He had to use old 78's (the kind you bought in the store) to make these new masters. So, while he may have picked 78's that were better preserved, and had seen less action, he was still using the next generation of recordings.

When you master from the originals over and over and over again, you tend to add all kinds of artificial pops, clicks, hisses, and such into the original disc (Bing Crosby had to re-record White Christmas in 1947, because the original 1942 recording was pressed so many times, it sounded horrible). Therefore, if you use a pretty clean 78, you can avoid much of that, and come out with a cleaner master to make into a CD. When you add some digital noise removal systems (essentially computer programs), you make them even cleaner, and if done right, still not sacrifice the integrity of the music.

Sounds pretty cut and dry right? The 78's should sound better then, right? Why wouldn't Columbia re-master their collection from old 78's as well? A very important reason, actually. When you copy old 78's, instead of the original pressings, you move at least one generation away from the original performance. Everytime you make a copy of a copy, the sound gets muddier, with less distinction and more distortion. Certainly, with skill and technology, it can be minimalized, but the fact remains.

Soooooooo.......my analysis? The JSP set sounds a tad smoother, with less pops. The bass is a little deeper too, however a bit muddier (slightly distorted). The Columbia set from 2006 DOES have a bit more scratchiness, and the bass is not quite as deep. However, the sound is CLEANER, and...my favorite descriptive word in this whole review...more TRANSPARENT. That's right. Every instrument in the Columbia set is more distinct from all the other instruments. The sound feels light, airy, and alive. The JSP set, while more smooth doesn't have that clarity of the original recordings. They sound more like...well, records.

So, which is better? There's no really correct answer. It's a matter of taste. For ME, the Columbia set wins, hands down. I'm 31 years old. For most of my musical life, i grew up listening to CDs. However, many people have fond memories of what their old collection of vintage records sound like. What you hear on records that you don't hear on CD's is distortion. It's slight, but it's certainly there. Technically, CDs are cleaner, and more accurate representations of the actual music than records ever were. But people have aural memories, and THAT'S the sound they want to hear. It's a very natural, and totally unconscious reaction. We like what we know. Everytime i buy better speakers, amps, etc., i always miss the sound of my old, inferior equipment...for a little while. Then as i use it, my ears adjust to the new sound, and i ADORE it. Anytime i've tried going back to the OLD set-up after that, i had a much stronger negative reaction than i did when going UP in quality. My ears became adjusted to what's better.

So, here's my recommendation:

If you don't have those fond memories of old vinyl or shellac discs, and grew up on CDs, then the Columbia set is 150% better. The sound is cleaner, tighter, more distinct instrumentally, and contains less distortion. You get music that's closer to reality. The drawback of course, is you will hear a bit more crackle, and a tad less bass.

If you DO have those fond memories of the big black discs, and you remember the warm, rounded sound that made you feel like cuddling up in a blanket with a cup of cocoa & a wish on a star, then you really need to get this set. If you also happen to listen to rap in your Escalade, and you like to hear the bass completely distorting, but you think you wanna try some early Satchmo, then you NEED this set. Don't even think about buying the Columbia version. Just remember, while it is smoother, it is also further away from the original performance, so the sound is muddier and less distinct.

I've compared nearly every track on both sets. They both sound pretty good in their own ways. By all means, this IS a set worth owning...for some people. You just have to decide what kind of person you are.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Essential Jazz Recordings of All-Time, January 25, 2001
By 
Rick (CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
A young Armstrong sours to unreachable heights with the lightening speed and elegant grace of his cornet and trumpet in these timeless, highly essential recordings. Hot Five and Sevens is Pure Bliss!! Highlights include "Heebie Jeebies" (introduction to scat singing), "Cornet Chop Suey", Potato Head Blues", "Hotter Than That", "West End Blues" (with it's single note held in time for four bars), "Tight Like This", "Mohogany Hall Stomp" and "Ain't Misbehavin'", but every track (all 89) are essential and timeless!! Each song gives you a new theme and adventure. Louis's band is tight with tremendous focus on their instruments. They complement their leader with hot jams and dignified unity. Even if your new to jazz you will truly enjoy these recordings. You won't get bored with these CD's. In fact, you will discover new treasures with each listening. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Excellent music at an excellent price.
Hats off to R.T Davies and the rest of gang at JSP, these tracks have superior sound for their original 1925-1929 recordings. This 4 CD Box Set includes 3 pages of in-depth liner notes in each jewel case (for each vol). You also get track by track info on back of each jewel case with recording dates, and musicians for each session.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music, great bargain, November 5, 1999
By 
Amazon Customer (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
It would be difficult to overstate how great this set really is. The packaging isn't anything fancy, but the music is awesome. Essential music at a bargain price. You need this.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE ONE TO GET., June 25, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
Make no mistake, this release is the finest ever of the Louis Armstrong Hot Fives & Sevens, and the price is more than reasonable. This set, with sound restoration by the peerless John R.T. Davies, FAR outshines the more expensive Columbia set in both clarity and presence. You can not get a better sounding collection of this music no matter how much you pay.
You may already know, or may have learned in other reviews, of how this music changed the course of history. You may know these recordings showed a new kind of musical genius, and solidified jazz as a soloist's art. You may know that many consider West End Blues to be Louis Armstrong's finest moment. You may know that Knockin' A Jug may represent the first recording of black and white artists together (trombone master Jack Teagarden sits in). You may know that many consider these to be the most important recordings ever in the development of jazz, and Louis the most important figure. You may know that this music is one of the clearest expressions of unbridled joy and love, even in the face of adversity, that has ever met the human ear. If you know all of that already, all you need to know now is that this is the best this music has sounded since the very day it was played.
This is the spirit of jazz distilled to its most pure form. The heart and soul that runs from Ellington to Holiday to Bird to Coltrane and beyond is all here, and this is the set to hear it with. You know what to do...
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the Armstrong Collection to Get!!, January 12, 2001
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hot Fives & Sevens (Audio CD)
I had never been an especially enthusiastic fan of Armstrong's work, although knowing of his importance, and previously had just one of the Hot Fives and Sevens CDs from Columbia.
Well, this changed all that. This is a SUPERB SOUNDING collection of Armstrong's most important and most groundbreaking work, from the early Hot Fives through some big band works of the thirties. Let's mention again the superb sound quality (for the period) attained by the JSV crew (as usual). All the early hits are there, e.g., "West End Blues," "Muggles," etc., but the real joy is finding the gems on your own.
Good liner notes come with each CD; while there's no lavish book as with many other box sets --look at the price!!! I wish more producers would come out with such excellent recordings of outstanding works at a reasonable price. These are pieces you can listen to over and over again, enjoying Armstrong's amazingly inventive solos (!) and incredible power. He revolutionized the music of the giants before him, and provided the syntax, vocabulary, and inspiration for those who came later. Treat yourself to this outstanding set!
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Hot Fives & Sevens
Hot Fives & Sevens by Louis Armstrong (Audio CD - 1999)
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