The legendary "Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five" jazz band worked only in studio
in order to set new lines to jazz after "King Oliver's Creole jazz Band". 
In the "Hot Five" with Louis Armstrong there were Johnny Dodds in clarinet,
Kid Ory in trombone, Johnny St.Cyr in banjo and Lil Hardin, who later became 
Louis' wife, in piano. 

Armstrong himself was the member of that school where masters tried to prevent 
imitators by hiding the keys of the horn from view with a handkerchief.
The band wanted to make itself inimitable and sound different by choosing odd keys 
for their recordings. To help their own playing in odd keys they used instruments
different from traditional ones. E.g. Johnny Dodds used both Bb- and A-clarinets 
with Albertian fingering. 
When these masters of that time started to make recordings with their new orchestra 
they choosed mostly their own compositions to the repertoire. Lil was the master on 
that purpose having classical schooling. She made the most of the compositions and 

Patricia A. Martin has in her academic dissertation, "The Solo Style of Jazz 
Clarinetist Johnny Dodds: 1923-1938", shown that Dodds used his A-clarinet in 
recording the tunes "Wild Man Blues" and "Melancholy", May 1927. He did it in most 
part of his recordings during 1926... 1927, too. So it was very easy for him to use 
odd keys when advisable.

When Louis Armstrong's Hot Five made the first recordings, 11.12.1925, Dodds used 
his A-clarinet. In the original 78-rpm "Cornet Chop Suey" they used key E, which 
has surprised all specialists for decades. It was impossible for them to realise 
that key as the truth. On the contrary when moving the material to modern media 
they have used time to correct the speed up or down in order to make it usable for 
standard Bb-instruments. There are modifications to Eb- and F-keys without thinking
other possible solutions. 

Armstrong was a real master with his horn playing in any keys, they say. In that 
special "Cornet Chop Suey" he could have used C-cornet, too. In the many pictures 
showing Hot Five there were numerous instruments on the stage including several 
horns and clarinets. Dodds played that tune with A-clarinet, using then key G, 
which was the most used key in his repertoire overall. The fact if Louis used C- 
or Bb-horn I have never seen in speculations. The recordings Hot Five made on those
years remained unique for just that key reason. The sound and performance was 

In the following Okeh-recording sessions it was very likely that Johnny Dodds used
A-clarinet. After the name of the composition is the key in brackets the band used.
11.12.1925: "My Heart" (D), "Yes, I'm In The Barrel" (E), "Gut Bucket Blues" (B)
02.22.1926: "Come Back Sweet Papa" (B)
02.25.1926: "Georgia Grind" (D), "Heebie Jeebies" (G), "Cornet Chop Suey" (E), 
		"Oriental Strut" (E), "You're Next" (E), "Muskrat Ramble" (G)
06.16.1926: "Don't Forget To Mess Around" (G), "I'm Gonna Gitcha" (E), 
		"Droppin' Shucks" (B), "Who'sit" (B)
06.23.1926: "King Of The Zulus" (Em), "Big Fat Ma And Skinny Pa" (D), 
		"Lonesome Blues" (A), "Sweet Little Papa" (E)
09.02.1926: "Put 'Em Down Blues" (G)
11.27.1926: "You Made Me Love You" (B), "Irish Black Bottom" (E)
12.10.1927: "Once In A While" (B), "I'm Not Rough" (G)
12.13.1927: "Hotter Than That" (D), "Savoy Blues" (G)

On all these tunes there has been uncertainty of the real key. Cd-records include
different choices and in the text specialists try to lead listeners to believe 
those choices. Except for "King Of The Zulus", "Put 'Em Down Blues" and "Savoy 
Blues", all the tunes in the cd collection, "Louis Armstrong: The complete Hot Five
and Hot Seven Recordings", are half-tone too fast due the wrong presumption of 
using only Bb-instruments. That makes those tunes too hectic and untrue to life.

When these recordings were reissued on cd-records there was an inconvenience of 
80-rpm records, too. That thing could also have contributed to false pitches. 
Okeh studio was quite oldfashined and the recording system used worn with years 
equipment and changed to electrical recording only in 1927. The specialists 
happened not to think that using odd keys was intentional and not to be playable 
with normal Bb-instruments!

In my Dodds' mp3-collection I have used the right ones and they sound marvellous!