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King Oliver Oh Play That Thing

King Oliver: Oh Play That Thing! Original 1923 Recordings (Naxos, 2003)

Yes, King Oliver’s recordings introduced Louis Armstrong to the world. That alone would win them a spot on this list. But consider as well the vast number of devices—breaks, stop-time choruses, a bevy of cornet mutes for Oliver—that were startling at the time (but quickly became part of the jazz vocabulary). Jazz was already a craze when Oliver appeared in Chicago, but even its most ardent fans didn’t know it went this deep. MICHAEL J. WEST