Can't be effusive enough about the great Roy Eldridge and thought I'd mark his birthday with a few comments and a small sampling of his playing.
Roy was sneaky influential. That is, musicians-especially other trumpet players-knew what he meant to jazz, but the public knew him more as showman and less as musical genius (I suppose complicated parallels might be drawn with Louis Armstrong's career).
Roy accessed all the power implicit in the trumpet, but articulated with extraordinary dexterity. He played right in the pocket, even when shape shifting the rhythm of a phrase. He was a more than able vocalist, although he scatted less often than Louis or Dizzy. He tested himself over and over in the crucible of the cutting contest and sent many JATP sessions over the top. Any session he made was pushed into a higher level of commitment. I saw him a few times near the end of his playing career and he blew with intense ferocity. There was nothing little about this man except his nickname. Happy Birthday, Roy.
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The summum bonum-