Portrait of Little Jazz: a Centennial Tribute to Roy Eldridge
They called him Little Jazz," but he was born David Roy Eldridge on January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Roy Eldridge has often been called the link or bridge between Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. He was indeed a strong influence on Gillespie, who called him the Messiah of our generation," and he certainly admired Armstrong, who he said taught him how to build a story out of his solos. Biographer John Chilton writes that:
The combination of Armstrong's ingenious thematic developments and the fast-flowing lines that Roy had based on the saxophone-playing of Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter, plus the hard-won instrumental virtuosity and a natural sense of harmonic daring, all jelled and formed the basis of the Eldridge trumpet style. Based on these foundations Roy created improvisations that were increasingly full of what were then considered (in jazz) to be advanced harmonies, often using chromatic substitute chords, thus pioneering an approach that others developed into 'modern' jazz."
But Eldridge was much more than some sort of simplified link" between two other hugely talented and complex musicians, and he was a musical role model for many who followed, such as trumpeter Joe Wilder. We should all bow our heads to Roy because he's the one who made us take risks playing the trumpet," Wilder said. He did things that nobody would ever dare to do."
Portrait of Little Jazz" features the music Roy Eldridge recorded from the late 1930s to the end of the 1950smusic that gives a sense of the breadth of his accomplishment, and of his joyous artistic fire. The trumpeter had a competitive temperament that was legendary. Trombonist Trummy Young once described him as a bubbling gladiator," and saxophonist Scott Hamilton, who played with Eldridge in the 1970s, said he viewed other trumpeters as though it was the Old West, six shooters and all...'Every time I try to relax another one of them comes through the door."