Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.

Crystal Clear Louis Armstrong Recordings Surface

An astonishingly clear recording of Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra performing “Ain’t Misbehavin'” has surfaced on YouTube. According to the video’s description, the track comes from a metal “mother record” that New York City’s Okeh Records sent to Germany’s Odeon Records for their pressings.

Another similar recording of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five performing “Knee Drops” in Chicago in 1928 was also posted a few days later. Evidently, both of these new versions were transferred to a digital format by sound engineer Nick Dellow.

Considering the poor quality of most early jazz records, these tracks are a rare treat for any fan of the pioneering New Orleans trumpet master.

UPDATE: Dellow has transferred another crystal clear, classic jazz recording to a digital format, this time from Duke Ellington.

Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (New York City, July 19, 1929)

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, “Knee Drops” (Chicago, July 5, 1928)

  • Derek K. Wilson

    Absolutely wonderful!!

  • Ralph Doty Phillips

    So clear, who is the pianist on Knee Drops?? Very enjoyable.

    • Samwise

      According to the YouTube post, it is Earl Hines.

      • Ralph Doty Phillips

        Nice piano work on this tune!! If I remember correctly Louis’ wife played with one of his later bands.

    • Lincoln Apeland

      If this was 1928, then it was the second lineup of the Hot Five so it was Earl “Fatha” Hines on Piano. Lil’, his wife, was the pianist for the original lineup.

  • Stephen Worth

    This is actually pretty typical for the way late 1920s recordings sound. At that time the labels were introducing electrical recordings and designing high end acoustic phonographs to play them. When the depression hit, record sales fell like a rock, and sound quality took a hit. But most Victor Orthophonic, Columbia Viva-Tonal or Brunswick Electrical Recordings from the late 1920s sound this good. They sound even better on a contemporary acoustic phonograph that was designed to play them.

  • Jim Charne

    Remarkable! How did they do it?! No multi-track, no overdubs, no “fix it in the mix.” Just that elusive “talent!”

    • Mr. Edison

      And one microphone.

  • Andrew Homzy

    Most recording engineers today aren’t musicians – they use their eyes to watch the meters instead of using their, albeit rock-bashed, ears to listen to the music – and assuming they are recording real instruments in the first place.

  • Marc

    As I understand it, If it came from a mother, which is a positive image of the metal matrix which was a negative image of the original recording on wax or acetate, then a negative image of the stamoer had to be made first in order to produce another “positive” pressing that could be played.

    • Jeremy Epstein

      Positives can be played with a special “Y” shaped stylus designed for the purpose.

  • Puckmeister

    I believe Earl “Fatha” Hines was from Oakland.

    • Adam

      Yes, he lived in Oakland, but was originally from the Pittsburgh area.

  • Brad Kay

    Ah, metal rules! I’ve got a Zach White “West End Blues” from the metal, and you’d think Gennett records were all high fidelity. Some of the enhanced fidelity definitely comes across, but it is still compromised by computer speakers, or ear buds (yikes!), and the strictures of mp3. The way to hear metal parts is on a tweaked-up stereo system at home.

  • Lincoln Apeland

    I hope they find more recordings. One of my favorites was always “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”. That was from an earlier session.

  • Thomas Leath


  • RodB

    Great find!

  • Michael Fonda

    Hot damn but that’s good.

  • Phillygirlg

    Great recording! I enjoyed it!

  • Steven Kozobarich

    I’d like to hear these without all the processing, noise reduction, stereo surround sound ambiance effects, volume leveling and boosting, etc. The open-horn trumpet solo on “Ain’t Misbehavin'” has been heavily edited as well. It makes me wonder just how noisy these things were right off the turntable.