Roy Eldridge

Roy Eldridge

Roy Eldridge (January 30, 1911 – February 26, 1989), nicknamed "Little Jazz", was an American jazz trumpet player. His sophisticated use of harmony, including the use of tritone substitutions, his virtuosic solos exhibiting a departure from the dominant style of jazz trumpet innovator Louis Armstrong, and his strong impact on Dizzy Gillespie mark him as one of the most influential musicians of the swing era and a precursor of bebop.

Eldridge moved to New York in November 1930, playing in various bands in the early 1930s, including a number of Harlem dance bands with Cecil Scott, Elmer Snowden, Charlie Johnson, and Teddy Hill. It was during this time that Eldridge received his nickname, 'Little Jazz', from Ellington saxophonist Otto Hardwick, who was amused by the incongruity between Eldridge's raucous playing and his short stature. At this time, Eldridge was also making records and radio broadcasts under his own name. He laid down his first recorded solos with Teddy Hill in 1935, which gained almost immediate popularity. For a brief time, he also led his own band at the reputed Famous Door nightclub. Eldridge recorded a number of small group sides with singer Billie Holiday in July 1935, including "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Miss Brown to You", employing a Dixieland-influenced improvisation style. In October 1935, Eldridge joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, playing lead trumpet and occasionally singing. Until he left the group in early September 1936, Eldridge was Henderson's featured soloist, his talent highlighted by such numbers as "Christopher Columbus" and "Blue Lou." His rhythmic power to swing a band was a dynamic trademark of the jazz of the time. It has been said that "from the mid-Thirties onwards, he had superseded Louis Armstrong as the exemplar of modern 'hot' trumpet playing".

In April 1941, after receiving many offers from white swing bands, Eldridge joined Gene Krupa's Orchestra, and was successfully featured with rookie singer Anita O'Day. In accepting this position, Eldridge became one of the first black musicians to become a permanent member of a white big band.

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Don't Be That Way
Wabash Stomp
Stardust
When I Grow To Old To Dream
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