This article explores the social lives of two-dozen sound recordings made by Louis Armstrong between 1925 and 1931. Through this case study, it examines how the meaning of media content changes over time through varying forms of reproduction. It argues that the reissue of Armstrong’s Hot Five and Seven recordings in the early 1950s inserted them into new networks of meaning and practice and that the long-playing (LP) record itself played a major role in this transformation. The specific communication languages and material elements of the LP—from its images and design to its liner notes—provided crucial resources for a previously small group of music collectors to reform the definition of jazz for a quickly expanding audience in the 1950s. Finally, the article discusses and theorizes reissues, the reproduction and recirculation of older material in a new context and with novel packaging.


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pp. 304-331
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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