Cover image for Roy Eldridge, little jazz giant
Roy Eldridge, little jazz giant
Chilton, John, 1932-2016.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Continuum, [2002]

Physical Description:
vi, 447 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
ML419.E37 C54 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Roy Eldridge, Little Jazz Giant is the first biography of the spectacular trumpeter, Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge, whose style is universally recognised as the all-important link between the playing styles of Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. Roy's daring harmonic approach and his technically awesome improvisations provided inspiration for countless jazz musicians. But he was also a star performer in his own right, whose exciting recordings gained him an international reputation. Eldridge's improvisations in the extreme high register always added a thrilling edge to his solos and his perpetually competitive attitude towards other trumpeters gained him a special place in the hearts of jazz lovers. From the late 1940s through the 1970s, he continued to develop his worldwide reputation by playing an important part in the famous Jazz at the Philharmonic tours, all the while adding to his impassioned recorded performances.John Chilton, who knew Eldridge for many years, sheds new light on the various occasions when Eldridge unwillingly became entangled with gangsters in New York and Chicago. There are revealing details about Eldridge's uneven working relationships with Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie.

Author Notes

Authors Bio, not available

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sixty years ago, Roy Eldridge possessed one of the hottest chops in jazz. A fast and daring soloist, his trademark move was flitting all over the horn's upper register like an acrobat. And though he played on some key swing records such as "After You've Gone" and "Rockin' Chair," both with Gene Krupa's Orchestra his true forte was playing live. In this first biography of "Little Jazz" Eldridge, Chilton reminds readers that the risk-taking Eldridge inspired a young Dizzy Gillespie to create the revolutionary style called bop. Yet Eldridge never dug the modern sound, and from the late 1940s until his death in 1985 his playing was increasingly old hat. Unfortunately, Chilton's narrative isn't the classic tale of a self-made man going from obscurity to fame and, painfully, back to obscurity. Instead, it's a dull run through Eldridge's many performances and recordings, from his start with traveling carnival and circus bands to his last days at Ryan's Club in New York. Chilton does find some great quotes underscoring Eldridge's skill: e.g., Louis Armstrong: "And there's no use wondering how high Roy can go on his trumpet, because he can go higher than that." But the author ignores Eldridge's private personae, thus never really bringing him to life. On his childhood, Chilton writes, "There was no question of a cruel stepmother making Roy's life a misery," and leaves it at that. Late in the book readers learn that Eldridge's wife and daughter were the "central figures" of his life, yet Chilton only introduces them a few times in passing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The superb trumpeter Roy Eldridge, also known as "Little Jazz," is considered a direct descendant of Louis Armstrong and a progenitor of Dizzy Gillespie a link between traditional and modern. Eldridge himself acknowledges other influences, notably Ellington trumpeter Rex Stewart and tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, and Chuck Berry. This invaluable new biography by Chilton (Who's Who of Jazz, etc.), one of the world's leading jazz writers, takes advantage of the author's firsthand experiences as a jazz trumpeter who played alongside Eldridge in big bands and late-night jam sessions. Chilton's lifelong hobby of collecting biographical information about jazz musicians provides much of the detail that allows this biography to transcend the merely factual. Many such details reveal the acute pain Eldridge experienced because of racial discrimination, partly because he was the first African American in several hitherto all-white bands. Chilton also relates Eldridge's first experience playing before a group of musicians shortly after his arrival in New York, where he learned that playing fastest and highest was not necessarily "saying anything." At the end of the biographical chapters, readers will find nearly 100 pages devoted to Eldridge's recordings, a pleasant surprise for those whom Chilton has motivated to listen again (or for the first time) to some of these unforgettable performances. Harold V. Cordry, Baldwin, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Smoketown
2 Territory Band Travels
3 A Bite at the Big Apple
4 Chicago Bandleader
5 Settling in New York
6 Crusading with Krupa
7 Satrring with Shaw
8 Jazz at the Philharmonic
9 Interlude in Paris
10 Tours and Triumphs
11 Flying with the Hawk
12 Festivals Galore
13 Radiance at Ryan's
14 Ending with a Song
15 Roy on Record (1935-39)
16 Roy on Record (1940-46)
17 Roy on Record (1947-55)
18 Roy on Record (1955-65)
19 Roy on Record (1965-85)