It has been almost fifty years since Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings of 1925-1928 were first recognized in print as a watershed of jazz history and the means by which the trumpeter emerged as the style's first transcendent figure. Since then these views have only intensified. The Hot Fives and Hot Sevens have come to be regarded as harbingers of all jazz since, with Armstrong's status as the “single most creative and innovative force in jazz history” and an “American genius” now well beyond dispute. This study does not question these claims but seeks, rather, to determine the hitherto uninvestigated origin of such a seminal event and to suggest that Armstrong's genius was present from the beginning of the project.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2003, College Music Society. This article first appeared in College Music Symposium: 43 (2003), 13-24.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.