Roy Eldridge

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Roy Eldridge

David Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge (born January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , † February 26, 1989 in Valley Stream , New York ) was one of the most important American jazz trumpeters .

life and career

Roy Eldridge received his first lessons from his older brother Joe Eldridge (1908-1952), an alto saxophonist, and played drums in his band when he was six. At the age of 12 he learned the trumpet. He was influenced by the at that time ignored, because too progressive trumpet style of Jabbo Smith . Eldridge played in a number of lesser-known orchestras until the early 1930s before he returned to Pittsburgh and founded an orchestra with his brother Joe , in which Kenny Clarke also played, the Eldridge Brothers Rhythm Team . Then Eldridge went to New York with his brother and went to Teddy Hill , where he was principal soloist with Chu Berry , and soon after joined McKinney's Cotton Pickers . In 1935 he became a member of the then leading big band of Fletcher Henderson , where he stayed until 1937. In this short time he established himself as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time. He has now recorded first records such as Stealin 'Apples , You Can't Depend on Me and Christopher Columbus . In 1936 he founded his own formation, with which he performed at the Three Deuces in Chicago . In 1938 he dissolved this again in order to devote himself to studying radio technology. The years between 1935 and 1938 were the time of his decisive breakthrough and the first records that drew attention to the trumpeter: the fast Heckler's Hop , the passionate Wabash stomp and the sparkling After You've Gone were brilliant examples of his style. Until 1944 he often played in small ensembles with different sizes of the swing era such as Benny Goodman , Gene Krupa (from 1941, famous his duet with Anita O'Day ), Coleman Hawkins , Chu Berry and Billie Holiday .

When the Krupa Orchestra disbanded in 1943, Eldridge again led his own formation and played in New York, Toronto, Chicago and California. In 1944/45 he toured as a soloist with Artie Shaw's popular big band and played in its Gramercy Five . After leaving Shaw (which was partly due to racial discrimination ), he worked with Norman Granz , who wanted him on his first Jazz-at-the-Philharmonic tour.

(From left: Thelonious Monk , Howard McGhee , Roy Eldridge and Teddy Hill , Minton's Playhouse , New York, circa September 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

After the Second World War he played again at times with Goodman (Paris 1950) and Krupa as well as in the Jazz-at-the-Philharmonic concert tours through the USA and Europe from 1952. He stayed in Europe for a while, wrote his memoirs in Paris and recorded records in Sweden. After his return to the USA, to which Granz was able to persuade him, he had a triumphant comeback in April 1951 at the Birdland jazz club . There were further recordings on the label Clef von Granz, u. a. with Coleman Hawkins. In 1956 he met in the Verve studio for a reunion with Gene Krupa and Anita O'Day ( Drummer Man ); in November 1956 he accompanied Billie Holiday at their last concert in New York's Carnegie Hall .

Like Charles Mingus , Jo Jones and Eric Dolphy , he was one of the musicians who organized a counter-festival to the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 (joint recording as Newport Rebels ). From 1963 to 1965 he was the leader of Ella Fitzgerald's band , and he also appeared at festivals with Gillespie, Herb Ellis , Stan Getz , Sonny Stitt , Oscar Peterson , Johnny Hodges , Budd Johnson and many other musicians, with whom also record- Recordings, e.g. B. on Pablo Records . In the 1970s he played regularly at Jimmy Ryans in New York. In 1971 he was elected to the Down Beat Hall of Fame . As Trumpet Kings he has appeared with Gillespie, Sweets Edison , Clark Terry and Jon Faddis . In 1975 and 1977 he was a guest at the Montreux Jazz Festival . Eldridge last appeared in 1979 with a quintet at an Armstrong memorial concert in Chicago. In 1980 he suffered a stroke; he died in 1989.

Because of his small stature, he was nicknamed Little Jazz .


Roy Eldridge's trumpet style is an important link between the early traditional styles of Louis Armstrong or Red Allen and the subsequent bebop playing style of Dizzy Gillespie. His trademark was his playing in the high registers; Down Beat noted in 1936: He almost played the saxophone on the trumpet. He plays higher and faster than Louis Armstrong . Eldridge's improvisations still impress today with their technical brilliance as well as their uniquely expressive and emotional fire. The innovator Eldridge set standards for a new, differentiated way of playing on his instrument. His playing had an audible and lasting influence on the young Dizzy Gillespie .



  • Norman Granz Jazz In Montreux Presents Roy Eldridge '77


  • John Chilton: Roy Eldridge, Little Jazz Giant. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-8264-5692-8 .
  • Martin Kunzler : Jazz Lexicon. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1991.
  • Nat Hentoff : Little Jazz. Down Beat, 1956; and in Hentoff (Ed.): The Jazz Makers. 1957.
  • Arrigo Pollilo: Jazz. Piper, Munich 1981.

Web links

Commons : Roy Eldridge  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Kunzler, Jazzlexikon
  2. like in a "Carnival Show" where he was forced to play the drums. He also founded his own dance orchestra "Roy Elliott and his Palais Royal Orchestra", but it was not very successful. Eldridge otherwise appeared in various bands in the American Midwest during this time. See Polillo, p. 443
  3. this would later remain his greatest hobby. See Pollilo, 445
  4. cit. after Polillo, p. 445
  5. ... which Eldridge had to experience as a black man in a white band - it had happened similarly to him before in the band by Krupa - cf. Polillo, p. 447 ff.
  6. cit. according to Kunzler, p. 327
  7. review