If you don’t know Pops, you don’t know jazz. I dig the good old New Orleans Pops who blew everyone away with his trumpet, not the internationally known Pops who made popular hits like “What a Wonderful World” and “Hello Dolly.” I am talking about the astonishing jazz pieces in the early days like “Hotter than That,” a jammed version of the final strain of “Tiger Rag.” Let’s hear what made Pops a musician’s musician:
“Hotter than That” kicks off with an eight-bar introduction.
.08 A: 32 bars with a break in between. Pops improvises on the chorus and ended exactly at the break.
.44 A: Another 32 bars in which clarinetist Johnny Dodds does his solo.
1:20 A: Pops drops his amazing scat-singing chops, which sounds like his trumpet. Near the end of this chorus, Pops and guitarist Lonnie Johnson trade some phrases with each other until Lillian Hardin Armstrong (Pops’ wife) impatiently lays down the beat at the piano, as if she’s saying, “Ok boys, enough playing around, let’s get back to business.”
2:18 Trombonist Kid Ory takes over the first 16 bars, then Pops returns sailing in and brilliantly closes the tune out. Pops and Johnson create a novelty ending with a strange interaction and unsettling chord.