Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge, Trumpet

b. Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
d. Feb. 26, 1989, NY, USA.
né: David Roy Eldridge
One of the most exciting trumpeters to emerge during the swing era, Roy Eldridge's combative approach, chance-taking style and strong musicianship were an inspiration (and an influence) to the next musical generation, most notably Dizzy Gillespie. Although he sometimes pushed himself farther than he could go, Eldridge never played a dull solo.
Roy Eldridge started out playing trumpet and drums in carnival and circus bands. With the Nighthawk Syncopators he received a bit of attention by playing a note-for-note re-creation of Coleman Hawkins' tenor solo on "The Stampede."Inspired by the dynamic playing of Jabbo Smith (Eldridge would not discover Louis Armstrong for a few years), Eldridge played with some territory bands including Zack Whyte and Speed Webb and in New York (where he arrive in 1931) he worked with Elmer Snowden (who nicknamed him "Little Jazz"), McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and most importantly Teddy Hill (1935).
Eldridge's recorded solos with Hill, backing Billie Holiday and with Fletcher Henderson (including his 1936 hit "Christopher Columbus") gained a great deal of attention. In 1937 he appeared with his octet (which included brother Joe on alto) at the Three Deuces Club in Chicago and recorded some outstanding selections as a leader including "Heckler's Hop" and "Wabash Stomp." By 1939 Eldridge had a larger group playing at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York. With the decline of Bunny Berigan and the increasing predictability of Louis Armstrong, Eldridge was arguably the top trumpeter in jazz during this era.
During 1941-1942 Eldridge sparked Gene Krupa's Orchestra, recording classic versions of "Rockin' Chair" and "After You've Gone" and interacting with Anita O'Day on "Let Me Off Uptown." The difficulties of traveling with a White band during a racist period hurt him, as did some of the incidents that occurred during his stay with Artie Shaw (1944-1945) but the music during both stints was quite memorable. Eldridge can be seen in several "soundies" (short promotional film devoted to single songs) of this era by the Krupa band, often in association with O'Day, including "Let Me Off Uptown" and "Thanks for the Boogie Ride."
He is also very prominent in the band's appearance in Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire, in an extended performance of "Drum Boogie" mimed by Barbara Stanwyck, taking a long trumpet solo -- the clip was filmed soon after Eldridge joined the band in late April of 1941, and "Drum Boogie" was a song that Eldridge co-wrote with Krupa.
Eldridge had a short-lived big band of his own, toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and then had a bit of an identity crisis when he realized that his playing was not as modern as the beboppers. A successful stay in France during 1950-1951 restored his confidence when he realized that being original was more important than being up-to-date. Eldridge recorded steadily for Norman Granz in the '50s, was one of the stars of JATP (where he battled Charlie Shavers and Dizzy Gillespie), and by 1956, was often teamed with Coleman Hawkins in a quintet; their 1957 appearance at Newport was quite memorable.
The '60s were tougher as recording opportunities and work became rarer. Eldridge had brief and unhappy stints with Count Basie's Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald (feeling unnecessary in both contexts) but was leading his own group by the end of the decade. He spent much of the '70s playing regularly at Ryan's and recording for Pablo and, although his range had shrunk a bit, Eldridge's competitive spirit was still very much intact. Only a serious stroke in 1980 was able to halt his horn. Roy Eldridge recorded throughout his career for virtually every label.
~ Scott Yanow
Sam Allen, Piano
b. Middleport, OH, USA.
d. Sept. 19, 1963
Although some movie patrons reacted in horror to the idea, thinking it was some kind of prank, the ten-year old Sam Allen was actually employed as a pianist for silent films, allowed to sit at the instrument and extemporize as the action unfolded on screen. He had already been playing for three years when he got this job, and in the next few years seemed to have absorbed plenty of slapstick hi-jinx and derring-do from the Hollywood sagas he accompanied. This would all come in handy when he began playing piano years later with the madcap jive jazz duo of Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart, known to their pals as Slim & Slam. At 19, pianist Allen headed for New York City and a stint with the Herbert Cowans band at the classy Rockland Palace venue. Within a year, he was back in his native Ohio and playing with Alex Jackson, staying with this group through 1930.
Shortly thereafter, he absorbed the intense experience of the ambitious James P. Johnson Orchestra, with whom he was employed as a second pianist: one keyboardist alone wasn't enough to play all the chords in the scores. For much of the '30s, he played with the dance band of Teddy Hill, including a European tour. This was followed by one of his most musically satisfying collaborations as piano man in the sometimes rowdy combo of violinist Stuff Smith. Combining this with the off-and-on shenanigans of Slim & Slam and the bebop hyper-drive of Dizzy Gillespie must have worn Allen out by the end of the decade. He relocated to Washington and completely shifted his focus from touring sideman to stay-at-home featured solo pianist. Maybe not quite relaxed enough, he then headed for California where he settled in on the Oakland jazz scene, often accompanying the fine singer Billie Heywood.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

Dana Neal Brown
Bass (brass/string)/trombone/photographer)
b. (on a farm near Syracuse) North Pitcher, NY, USA
d. Oct. 10, 1974, New York, NY, USA.
Attended Colgate Univ. in New York, and became a member of the "Colgate Collegians" orch. The band later became known as Lloyd Huntley and the Isle O' Blues Orchestra. Brown was with the band during their European tour, and was with the band when they returned to the USA, and played the Coral Gables Country Club, which catapulted the band into national fame.

Bob Harrington
Piano, Vibes, drums, arranger
b. Marshfield, WI, USA.
A copy of Vibraphone Fantasy in Jazz by Bob Harrington on the Imperial label would represent a find of great importance in the used record pile, setting off shock waves through the vinyl icons. The side would be especially dear to fans of modern jazz vibraphone, yet Harrington himself would have been capable of delivering the sound of an entire rhythm section if necessary, not just good vibes. He was proficient as well on piano and drums, both related to the vibraphone on the instrumental family tree. Nonetheless, Harrington's finest playing may have been as part of a band after all, not just any band but the legendary Jazzpickers featuring cellist Harry Babasin. Harrington experienced plenty of music in his family, as his father was a violinist. The son started to become known on the jazz scene in the early '50s as a pianist for bandleader Charlie Barnet; Harrington had also studied bass in high school. He performed and recorded through the decade with Georgie Auld, Buddy DeFranco, and Vido Musso, but when working with both Red Nichols and Bud Freeman in the mid-'50s was seated behind the drums. In the latter part of the '50s he could be heard as both an accompanist and arranger for vocalist Ann Richards as well as in a straight-out swing context with magnificent tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. Harrington continued recording through 1970.
~ Eugene Chadbourne
Bob Harrington - Wikipedia

Rome Johnson, (Western) vocals
b. Winchester, KY, USA.
Member: 'Sons of the Pioneers'
Jim Lanigan, Bass/Tuba
b. Chicago, IL, USA.
d. April 9, 1983
Although he had a fairly long career, Jim Lanigan will always be most famous for his participation on some important early Chicago jazz recordings during the 1920s. Both of his parents were musicians and he was well-trained on violin and piano early on. Lanigan played piano and drums a bit with the Austin High School Blue Friars before deciding to concentrate on bass and tuba. Part of the Austin High School Gang, Lanigan worked with Husk O'Hare (1925), Red McKenzie's Mound City Blue Blowers, and Art Kassel's band (1926-1927).
He was on the famous McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans recordings of 1927 and also recorded with the Chicago Rhythm Kings and the Jungle Kings. However Lanigan often worked outside of jazz. He spent four years (1927-1931) with the commercial band of Ted Fio Rito, worked for NBC in Chicago, and was frequently on the radio in staff orchestras. Occasionally the bassist would be persuaded to record as a sideman in jazz settings including with Jimmy McPartland (1939), Bud Jacobson's Jungle Kings (1945), Bud Freeman (1946), and Danny Alvin (1950), but he settled into performing regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1937-1948) and in the studios. Jim Lanigan, who lived to be 81 and was always happy to participate in the various reunions of the Austin High School Gang, never led his own record date.
~ Scott Yanow

Bernie Leighton
West Haven Ct.
Orch leader (Chance of a Lifetime)
A flexible musician who spent many years in the studios, Bernie Leighton gained early experience working with Bud Freeman, Leo Reisman, Raymond Scott (1940) and Benny Goodman (1940-41). He spent time in the Army and after his discharge became a studio musician who also occasionally played in jazz settings. Most notable among his jazz gigs were recordings and jobs with Dave Tough (1946), Billie Holiday (1949), Neal Hefti (1951), Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw (1953), James Moody (1963) and Bob Wilber (1969).
Leighton toured with Tony Bennett during 1972-73. Although he never became that well-known, the value of Bernie Leighton's playing was well-known to his fellow musicians. As a leader he recorded six titles for Keynote in 1946, four for Mecury in 1950, an album for Columbia in 1950, four swing titles for Brunswick in 1951, mood music LPs for Disneyland and Capitol (both in 1957) and a Duke Ellington tribute date for Monmouth/Evergreen (1974).
Frank Weir, alto sax/clarinet/leader
b. England, UK, d. May 12, 1981.
One of the great "Light Music" bands of the 1940s-'70s. Perhaps his most famous release was "The Happy Wanderer". During WWII, Frank's orchestra often played in London, where blind pianist George Shearing appeared with the band, - but NOT as a pianist. Shearing played the accordion. (Shearing also played piano with 'Harry Parry's Radio Rhythm Band', during the WWII years in London.)
Frank Weir - Wikipedia

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:
Mance Lipscomb, guitar/vocals
died in Navasota, TX, USA.
Age: 80.

'Lightnin' Hopkins
died in Houston, TX, USA.
Age 69.

Ernestine "Tiny" Davis, trumpet
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 86
Trumpet player for the first racially integrated woman's jazz band, the International Sweethearts Of Rhythm, Ernestine "Tiny" Davis joined with vocalist/leader Anna Mae Winburn and tenor saxophonist Viola Burnside, to bring uplifting, swinging, music to Black audiences of the 1940s. A student at the Piney Woods Country Life School, in Mississippi, when she and fellow students formed International Sweethearts Of Rhythm in 1939, Davis remained with the band the full decade of its existence. 
Davis appeared in two films with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. While International Sweethearts of Rhythm: Hottest All-Girl Band showcased the band's swinging music, Tiny And Ruby: Hill Divin' Women, which focused on her relationship with longtime lover, drummer and pianist, Ruby Lucas.
~Craig Harris

George James, tenor sax
died in Columbus, OH, USA.
Age: 88.
Worked with Clyde Bernhardt

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Sousa’s Band - Trombone Sneeze –(A Humoresque Cakewalk in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.)


Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra

The California Ramblers


Dolly Kay
  • Seven Or Eleven (My Pair Of Dixie Dice)

Benson Orchestra of Chicago
  • Georgia Cabin Door
  • Starlight Bay

Benson Orchestra of Chicago - Think Of Me

  • Trot Along


Warner's Seven Aces
  • Cheatin' On Me


Ben Selvin And His Orchestra
  • After I Say I'm Sorry
  • Tentin' Down in Tennessee


Cannon's Jug Stompers - Big Railroad Blues

Cannon's Jug Stompers - Madison Street Rag - vocal by Gus Cannon

Cannon's Jug Stompers - Minglewood Blues - vocal refrain by Ashley Thompson


Boyd Senter and his Senterpedes - Goin' Back To Tennessee

Boyd Senter and his Senterpedes - Wabash Blues


Johnny Dodds and his Orchestra

Musical Stevedores - Happy Rhythm

Johnny Dodd's Hot Six - Sweet Lorraine


Cliff Jackson and his Crazy Kats - Horse Feathers

Cliff Jackson and his Crazy Kats - Torrid Rhythm

Annette Hanshaw - When A Woman Loves A Man


Abe Lyman's California Ambassador Hotel Orchestra
  • Delicious - Vocal Chorus by Paul Neely

Billie Holiday - Life Begins When You’re In Love (Teddy Wilson on piano)


Jelly Roll Morton's Six/Seven


When A Woman Loves A Man
~Gillespie, Haven

Maybe he's not much, just another man
Doing what he can
But what does she care
When a woman loves a man
She'll just string along
All through thick and thin
Till his ship comes in
It's always that way
When a woman love a man
She'll be the first one to praise him
When he's goin' strong
The last one to blame him
When everything's wrong
It's such a one-sided game that they play
But women are funny that way
Tell her she's a fool
She'll say yes, I know
But I love him so
And that's how it goes
When a woman loves a man
Tell her she's a fool
She'll say yes, I know
But I love him so
And that's how if goes

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Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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