Spanky & Roy

Passing the Torch: Live at the Vineyard

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After Roy Eldridge was forced to give up playing trumpet in 1980 due to his heart, the younger Spanky Davis took his place at his regular gig at Ryan's. Ryan's closed for good in 1983 (after a long run that had started in 1940) and in 1985 at the Vineyard, a special concert that paid tribute to the spirit of the legendary club. The last Ryan's house band, comprised of Davis on trumpet, pianist Bobby Pratt, bassist Frank Tate, and drummer Eddie Locke, were joined on some numbers by pianist Dick Katz (with Pratt switching to trombone) and clarinetist Artie Baker. In addition, Eldridge himself (who rarely performed during his last years) acted as an informal MC and is heard on this CD taking three good-humored vocals; at one point he trades comments with Buck Clayton, who was also involuntarily retired from playing. The music, which was originally broadcast on the radio but never released before, came out for the first time on this 1998 CD. Davis is the main star throughout, taking Eldridge-inspired solos on such tunes as "I Can't Get Started," "After You've Gone," and "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," but the shadow of Roy Eldridge is felt throughout what could be considered his final recording. A colorful set that will be of interest to mainstream/swing collectors.

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