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Marty Napoleon

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The nephew of trumpeter Phil Napoleon and the younger brother of fellow pianist Teddy Napoleon, Marty Napoleon gained his greatest fame playing with Louis Armstrong's All-Stars during two stints. Napoleon was a pretty versatile player whose style generally fell between swing and bop. Originally a trumpeter, heart troubles caused him to switch to piano. Napoleon picked up early experience playing with the big bands of Chico Marx, Joe Venuti, Lee Castle, Charlie Barnet, and Gene Krupa (1945). Napoleon worked with his uncle's Memphis Five in the early '50s, was part of Charlie Ventura's Big Four, and was with Louis Armstrong from 1952-1953. In addition to having a two-piano quartet with brother Teddy in 1955, working with Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Shavers, and Red Allen, and freelancing, Napoleon frequently led his own trios. He rejoined Louis Armstrong during the trumpeter's twilight years (1966-1968 and on and off in 1968-1971) and semi-retired in the 1980s. Napoleon led precious few record sessions, just a few dates in the '50s and then, nearly 55 years later, 2012's Swingin' at 90. He died in April 2015 at the age of 93. ~ Scott Yanow

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June 2, 1921 in New York, NY

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '10s