In the powerhouse pantheon of 20th century jazz trumpeters, Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge (1911-1989) occupies a place of honor among Cootie Williams, Henry "Red" Allen, Hot Lips Page, Buck Clayton, Charlie Shavers, and Dizzy Gillespie. That means he played a crucial role in the exciting stylistic transformation from swing to bop. By sampling Eldridge's recordings as leader and sideman from 1935 to 1946, this 1998 Best of Jazz compilation illustrates that rapid stylistic evolution with 22 exciting and very enjoyable performances. Eldridge is heard in orchestras led by Teddy Hill, Fletcher Henderson, and Gene Krupa; he leads his own small and big bands, collaborating with his brother, alto saxophonist Joe Eldridge, and with tenor saxophonists Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Hal Singer, Ike Quebec, Dave Young, and Tom Archia. The chronological progression makes for a dramatic buildup as the Roy Eldridge Orchestra of the mid-'40s hammers out three dynamic numbers co-composed and arranged by Buster Harding: "Little Jazz," "Little Jazz Boogie" and the rowdy "Hi Ho Trailus Boot Whip."
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