Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roy Eldridge 100: a neglected trumpet player spotlighted

Roy Eldridge 100: a neglected trumpet player spotlighted (English) Roy Eldridge 100: een vergeten trompettist in de schijnwerpers (Nederlands) Roy Eldridge 100: Battle of the trumpets (English) (maandag) Roy Eldridge 100: Little Trumpet wilde altijd de beste zijn (Nederlands)

Mr. Little Trumpet deserves utmost respect (Steve Turre).
ROY ELDRIDGE 100: a neglected trumpet player spotlighted
Hans Koert

On Monday the 30th of January, 1911, this weekend 100 years ago, David Roy Eldridge was born in Pittsburgh. In two blogs I love to spotlight this now forgotten and neglected trumpet player.

"You hear young people talking about Roy today, and they are talking about Roy Hargrove," he says with a tone of disapproval. "I tell them, no, there only is one Roy, and that's Roy Eldridge."
(Steve Turre in the Tribune-Review)(2008)
Roy Eldridge (1911-1989) in front of the Savoy Ballroom (September 1935) (photo courtesy: Duncen P. Schiedt)
When he was born, he had already a brother, named Joe, who was two and a half years older. As a kid he learned to play the piano and violin at school, but he had loved to play the drums. At the age of eight, he got a flugelhorn and later a trumpet, and, together with his brother Joe on alto saxophone, he learned to play the tunes. His brother played the tunes for him, as Roy couldn't read music. When he was a teenager he got his first regular job in The Greater Sheesley Carnival band, but, due the fact that he couldn't read music, this first job was not a success. He found some gigs in some territory bands, before he moved to New York City, where he founded his own band, Roy Elliot and the Palais Royal Orchestra from New York and became a member of bands like the orchestras of Horace Henderson, Zack White and Cecil Scott.
The brass section of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra ( ca. 1936)( f.l.t.r.: Dick Vance, Joe Thomas and Roy Eldridge (trumpets) and Ed Cuffee and Ferdinand Arbelo (trombones) (Source: The World of Swing - Stanley Dance)

In 1930 he played on a regular base with Clarence Williams and, although the discographers don't know for sure, his first recordings might have been with Clarence Williams Jazz Kings on a Columbia recording session, July 1930. Early 1932 he is present in a short film, entitled Smash Your Baggage as a member of the Elmer Snowden Small's Paradise Orchestra. This Jazz medley contains three tunes: Bugle Call Rag, Tiger Rag and Stop the Moon, Stop the Sun, with Mabel Scott as the vocalist ........
(Don't try this at home)

He received his nickname Mr. Little Jazz from the members of the Elmer Snowden Small's Paradise Orchestra, due to his length and the fact that he was a very fanatic trumpet player.
Roy Eldridge during a jam session with Artie Shaw and his men: f.l.t.r.: Pat McNaughton - Tony Faso - Tommy Mace - Roy eEdridge - Artie Shaw and Ray Conniff ( Source: The Big Bands - George T. Simon)

Roy said to have been influenced by trumpet players like Rex Stewart and Red Nichols and saxophone players like Coleman Hawkins and Bennie Carter. He wasn't really fascinated by Louis Armstrong, the growing star of that times, up to the moment when he heard Louis for the very first time in a concert in the Lafayette Theatre in New York. One of the tunes Louis played was Chinatown My Chinatown. Later he remembered this thrilling experience: He started out like a new book, building and building chorus after chorus and finally reaching a full climax, right, clean, clear. ........ Everybody was standing up, including me. He started to study seriously the music of Louis Armstrong.
Anita O'Day and Roy Eldridge when they performed with the Gene Krupa band ( Source: The Big Bands - George T. Simon)

During the 1930s he played in Teddy Wilson's Orchestra and recorded the first recordings under his own name as the Delta Four and the Roy Eldridge Septet featuring his brother Joe. In 1936 he played with Fletcher Henderson, before he founded his own orchestra featuring his brother Joe on alto saxophone, as the house orchestra of the Three Deuces in Chicago and later from the Savoy Ballroom in New York. During the 1938 - 1941 period he had his own big band in the Arcadia Ballroom, before he joined the band of Gene Krupa. It was a white band and as a black man he found his place in the orchestra, but "later", on the bus, he wouldn't be able to get off and buy a hamburger with the guys in the band.
( Artie Shaw in Little Jazz - Whitney Ballett).

In After You've Gone, recorded in 1949 by the Gene Krupa Band you can hear Roy at his best .......

Sources for this blog: American Musicians II - Whitney Balliett and two very informative articles in Dutch by Ben Kragting Jr. entitled Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge (1911-1989) Deel 1 and del 2 Gabriel Watch your horn ( Doctor Jazz Magazine 125 p. 34 - 37)(1989) ( DJM: 126 p. 3 - 8)(1989)

In Roy Eldridge 100: Battle of the trumpets you can learn more about his trips to Europe during the 1950s and his fights to be the best ..............

Hans Koert

This weekend Roy Eldridge, Mr. Little Jazz, was born 100 years ago. This great trumpet player, now almost forgotten, could be labeled as the link between the older generation of trumpet players and the beboppers like Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee and Clifford Brown. Today the first part of a small tribute to this neglected trumpet player. Keep Swinging loves to spotlight such forgotten giants in jazz - if you won't miss it, follow it a Twitter or ask for its newsletter.

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