Hotter Than That
Louis Armstrong

date: 1927
style: New Orleans jazz
form: 32-bar popular song

personnel:

Louis Armstrong, trumpet; Kid Ory, trombone; Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Lil Armstrong, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar.

Introduction (last eight bars of the chorus)

0:00
Collective improvisation, with Armstrong (trumpet) clearly in front. The remaining instruments provide indifferent support: Kid Ory (trombone) plays simple single-note figures, while the clarinet is distantly in the background.

Chorus One

0:09
Armstrong plays a solo that is entirely improvised, based on the chords to "Tiger Rag." Many of his notes are ghosted--played so lightly that they are almost inaudible.

0:25
Break.

0:28
Coming out of the break, Armstrong plays material that sounds rhythmically tricky and quite modern. He begins with a descending arpeggio (broken-up chord), placing accents on the backbeat, before finishing the phrase with a quick triplet figure.

0:36
Armstrong emphasizes a high note with a "shake"--an extra vibrato at the note's end.

0:43
Johnny Dodds begins his solo during the break.

Chorus Two

0:46
Dodds plays a solo on the clarinet in an upper register. Beneath him, Lil Hardin plays rhythmic piano fills.

1:01
A break, ending on a blue note.

1:19
A break introduces the next solo: Armstrong as a scat singer, improvising using nonsense syllables instead of words.

Chorus Three

1:22
Armstrong begins his solo by singing on-the-beat quarter notes, backed by the guitar's bluesy improvised lines.

1:38
Break.

1:40
Armstrong pulls away from the foundation beat in a strong polyrhythm.

Interlude

1:55
In a loose rhythmic extension of the previous chorus, Armstrong exchanges intimate, bluesy moans with Johnson's guitar.

2:14
The piano plays four bars of octaves, leading to the next soloist.

Chorus Four

2:18
Kid Ory takes a sharply-accented trombone solo. The opening of his line echoes the beginning of Armstrong's scat solo.

2:33
During a break, Armstrong interrupts Ory's solo with a rocket-like string of ascending 16th notes, ending on a high Bb.

2:35
Collective improvisation, accented by Armstrong's repeated high note, heard in a short, syncopated riff.

2:44
The last eight bars are in stop-time: Armstrong plays short, off-balance lines to generate rhythmic tension

Coda

2:51
Johnson and Armstrong exchange brief solos.

2:57
Johnson's line ends on a dissonant diminished 7th chord, leaving the harmony suspended.

Copyright W.W. Norton