By Matt Micucci
In honor of Black History Month, throughout February, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will host a new exhibition: “Hotter Than That – 90 Years of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.” The exhibition celebrates the band’s legacy and influence in jazz history as well as their 90th anniversary. While the band started recording in November 1925, it wasn’t until February 1926 when they really hit their stride with hits such as “Heebie Jeebies” and “Cornet Chop Suey.” These records were also the first to be issued under Armstrong’s own name. He remained fond of them throughout his career. In 1970, he stated, “Ain’t nothing like it since, and can’t nobody play nothing like it now. My oldest record, can’t nobody touch it.”
Visitors to the museum in February will take home part of the exhibit with a special collectable reproduction of one of Armstrong’s early scrapbook pages, charting his meteoric rise to stardom in Chicago in the 1920s. Each collectable will also feature an appreciation of the Hot Fives by the museum’s Director of Research Collections, Ricky Riccardi, which will include Armstrong’s own words on this vaunted series of recordings.
To further enrich the experience, visitors will also hear commentary from Louis himself in his own words through the trumpeter’s private reel-to-reel tape collection. The selected recordings feature Armstrong’s role as a civil-rights pioneer, including his late-1950s decision not to go back to his hometown of New Orleans because of a ban against integrated bands performing in public.
For more information, go to http://louisarmstronghouse.org/