|Height:||160 cm (5' 3'')|
|Birth Day:||January 30, 1911|
|Height:||160 cm (5' 3'')|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
He played with many traveling groups around the Midwest after learning how to play piano, drums, and trumpet.
Eldridge was born on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 30, 1911, to parents Alexander, a wagon teamster, and Blanche, a gifted pianist with a talent for reproducing music by ear, a trait that Eldridge claimed to have inherited from her. Eldridge began playing the piano at the age of five; he claims to have been able to play coherent blues licks at even this young age. The young Eldridge looked up to his older brother, Joe Eldridge (born Joseph Eldridge, 1908, North Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died March 5, 1952), particularly because of Joe's diverse musical talents on the violin, alto saxophone, and clarinet. Roy took up the drums at the age of six, taking lessons and playing locally. Joe recognized his brother's natural talent on the bugle, which Roy played in a local church band, and tried to convince Roy to play the valved trumpet. When Roy began to play drums in his brother's band, Joe soon convinced him to pick up the trumpet, but Roy made little effort to gain proficiency on the instrument at first. It was not until the death of their mother, when Roy was eleven, and his father's subsequent remarriage that Roy began practicing more rigorously, locking himself in his room for hours, and particularly honing the instrument's upper register. From an early age, Roy lacked proficiency at sight-reading, a gap in his musical education that would affect him for much of his early career, but he could replicate melodies by ear very effectively.
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".
According to Roy, his first major influence on the trumpet was Rex Stewart, who played in a band with young Roy and his brother Joe in Pittsburgh. But unlike many trumpet players, the young Eldridge did not derive most of his inspiration from other trumpeters, but from saxophonists. Roy first developed his solo style by playing along to recordings of Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter, and later said that, after hearing these musicians, "I resolved to play my trumpet like a sax." Following these musicians was evidently beneficial to Roy, who got one of his first jobs by auditioning with an imitation of Coleman Hawkin's solo on Fletcher Henderson's "Stampede" of 1926. Eldridge additionally purports to have studied the styles of white cornettist Loring "Red" Nichols and Theodore "Cuban" Bennett, whose style was also very much influenced by the saxophone. Eldridge, by his own report, was not significantly influenced by trumpeter Louis Armstrong during his early years, but did undertake a major study of Armstrong's style in 1932.
In the fall of 1936, Eldridge moved to Chicago to form an octet with older brother Joe Eldridge playing saxophone and arranging. The ensemble boasted nightly broadcasts and made recordings that featured his extended solos, including "After You've Gone" and "Wabash Stomp." Eldridge, fed up with the racism he had encountered in the music industry, quit playing in 1938 to study radio engineering. He was back to playing in 1939, when he formed a ten-piece band that gained a residency at New York's Arcadia Ballroom.
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. Eldridge was instrumental in changing the course of Krupa's big band from schmaltz to jazz. The group's cover of Jimmy Dorsey's "Green Eyes," previously an entirely orchestral work, was transformed into jazz via Eldridge's playing; critic Dave Oliphant notes that Eldridge "lift[ed]" the tune "to a higher level of intensity." Eldridge and O'Day were featured in a number of recordings, including the novelty hit "Let Me Off Uptown" and "Knock Me a Kiss".
After complaints from Eldridge that O'Day was upstaging him, the band broke up when Krupa was jailed for marijuana possession in July 1943.
After leaving Krupa's band, Eldridge freelanced in New York during 1943 before joining Artie Shaw's band in 1944. Owing to racial incidents that he faced while playing in Shaw's band, he left to form a big band, but this eventually proved financially unsuccessful, and Eldridge returned to small group work.
Eldridge moved to Paris in 1950 while on tour with Benny Goodman, before returning to New York in 1951 to lead a band at the Birdland jazz club. He additionally performed from 1952 until the early 1960s in small groups with Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald and Earl Hines among others, and also began to record for Granz at this time. Eldridge also toured with Ella Fitzgerald from late 1963 until March 1965 and with Count Basie from July until September 1966 before returning to freelance playing and touring at festivals.
In 1960, Eldridge participated, alongside Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham and others, in recordings by the Jazz Artist's Guild, a short-lived grouping formed by Mingus and Max Roach as a reaction to the perceived commercialism of the Newport Festival. These resulted in the Newport Jazz Rebels LP.
Eldridge became the leader of the house band at Jimmy Ryan's jazz club on Manhattan's West 54th Street for several years, beginning in 1969. Although Ryan's was primarily a Dixieland venue, Eldridge tried to combine the traditional Dixieland style with his own more brash and speedy playing. Eldridge was incapacitated by a stroke in 1970, but continued to lead the group at Ryan's soon after and performing occasionally as a singer, drummer and pianist. Writer Michael Zirpolo, seeing Eldridge at Ryan's in the late 1970s, noted, "I was amazed that he still could pop out those piercing high notes, but he did, with frequency....I worried about his health, because the veins at his temples would bulge alarmingly." As leader at Ryan's, Eldridge was noted for his occasional hijinx, including impromptu "amateur night" sessions during which he'd invite inexperienced players on stage to lead his band, often for comedic effect and to give himself a break. In 1971, Eldridge was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
After suffering a heart attack in 1980, Eldridge gave up playing. He died at the age of 78 at the Franklin General Hospital in Valley Stream, New York, three weeks after the death of his wife, Viola.
Roy was married to a woman named Viola who passed away three weeks before Eldridge.
Currently, Roy Eldridge is 111 years, 3 months and 26 days old. Roy Eldridge will celebrate 112th birthday on a Monday 30th of January 2023. Below we countdown to Roy Eldridge upcoming birthday.
Phil Schaap Jazz
This coming week contains two WKCR broadcast landmarks: our annual ROY ELDRIDGE BIRTHDAY BROADCAST (on Tuesday January 30, 2018 - "Little Jazz" would be turning 107 and this will be our 48th Roy...