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The Quintessence: Chicago-New York 1936-1945

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Album Review

During the decade covered by Fremeaux's Quintessence compilation, Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge was a vital force in the rapidly changing jazz scene, always operating near the cutting edge of stylistic developments as swing shape-shifted into bop. Like any Fremeaux collection, the Eldridge set covers a wide and varied terrain, illuminating many of his greatest moments on record from the period in question. At the outset he is heard with the Teddy Wilson and Fletcher Henderson orchestras and leading his own band in collaboration with his brother, arranger, and alto saxophonist Joe Eldridge. There are examples of his work with tenor saxophonist Chu Berry's Little Jazz Ensemble, some very friendly interactions with vocalists Billie Holiday and Mildred Bailey, several masterful outings with tenor sax archetype Coleman Hawkins, and a good sampling from Eldridge's adventures with Gene Krupa and Anita O'Day. The home stretch of this perky retrospective is peppered with choice cuts by Eldridge's fiery big band and Keynote trumpet ensemble, as well as a taste of his work with clarinetist Artie Shaw. Fremeaux's Quintessence serves as an excellent introduction to Roy Eldridge. A larger selection was presented in four-CD sets brought out by Avid and Proper, and an even more thorough survey by the Classics Chronological series in five consecutive volumes.


Born: 30 January 1911 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

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...
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The Quintessence: Chicago-New York 1936-1945, Roy Eldridge
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