Practically every jazz record collector has heard a sampling of pianist Gene Rodgers but probably not realized it, for Rodgers took the famous four-bar piano introduction on Coleman Hawkins' classic rendition of "Body And Soul" in 1939! A talented swing-based pianist, Rodgers had a long career although he never became famous. He was a professional as early as 1924 and by 1928 was working in New York. Rodgers recorded with Clarence Williams and King Oliver and worked with Chick Webb and Teddy Hill among others. The pianist formed a variety act in the mid-1930's, touring the United States, England and Australia and recording with Benny Carter in Great Britain in 1936. Back in the U.S., Rodgers worked and recorded with Coleman Hawkins (1939-40), was in Zutty Singleton's Trio and with Erskine Hawkins' big band (1943). Rodgers worked in Los Angeles for a couple years (appearing in the film Sensations of 1945 on one number with Cab Calloway opposite fellow pianist Dorothy Donegan) and then led his own trio, mostly working in New York. In 1981-82 he worked for a period with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. As a leader, Gene Rodgers only recorded on a few occasions: two numbers for Vocalion in 1936, four for Joe Davis in 1945 and isolated trio albums for EmArcy (a definitive outing from 1958), Black & Blue (1972) and 88 Up Right (1980).
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