Louis Armstrong, 'The Okeh Columbia & RCA Victor Records -- 1925-1933' (Columbia/Legacy; $79.98)
Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, made when he was based in Chicago during the mid-1920s, represent one of two templates for defining early jazz (the other being Jelly Roll Morton's releases with his Red Hot Peppers). If Armstrong never had recorded again or never had become a pop-culture icon, his position as a codifier of the art of jazz improvisation would be undiminished. The latest reissue of this music, like the aforementioned Bessie Smith box, is less gilded and more compact than earlier releases. In addition, it stretches beyond those seminal recordings with Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles to include his collaborations with Earl Hines (in various contexts in Chicago), and Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra (in New York), spread across 10 CDs.