Claude Hopkins & His Orchestra - Marie

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Claude Driskett Hopkins (1903-1984) was an American jazz stride pianist and bandleader. He was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1903. Historians differ in respect of the actual date of his birth. His parents were on the faculty of Howard University. A highly talented stride piano player and arranger, he left home at the age of only 21 as a sideman with the Wilbur Sweatman Orchestra but stayed less than a year. In 1925, he left for Europe as the musical director of The Revue Negre which starred Josephine Baker with Sidney Bechet in the band. He returned to the USA in 1927 where, based in Washington, he toured the TOBA circuit with The Ginger Snaps Revue before heading once again for NYC where he took over the band of Charlie Skeets. At this time (1932–36), he led a fairly successful Harlem band employing many jazz musicians who were later to become famous in their own right such as Edmond Hall, Jabbo Smith and Vic Dickenson (although it is worth noting that his records were arranged to feature his piano more than his band). This was his most successful period with long residencies at the Savoy and Roseland ballrooms and at the Cotton Club. In 1937 he took his band on the road with a great deal of success. He broke up the band in 1940 and used his arranging talents working for several non-jazz band leaders and for CBS. In 1948/9 he led a "novelty" band briefly but took a jazz band into The Cafe Society in 1950. From 1951 up until his death, he remained in NYC working mostly as a sideman with other Dixieland bands playing at festivals and various New York clubs and recording. Often under-rated in later years, he was one of jazz's most important band leaders and has yet to be given full recognition for his achievements. He died on 19 February 1984, a disillusioned and dispirited man. As popular as Hopkins' band was, it never achieved the high level of musical brilliance that Ellington, Henderson, Hines, Basie, Webb or Lunceford achieved. Besides Hopkins' piano being featured within the band, the high-pitched vocals of Orlando Roberson (who also is the vocalist on this recording, made in 1934) brought the band a good part of its popularity.

13 commentaires

B, no doubt Hopkins was an excellent orchestra, it's just that (as you point out), competition was so extremely strong in those days. Alberta Hunter (89 yrs) and Sam Wooding (90 yrs) definitely died happy, otherwise they wouldn't have reached that age :-)
Par kspm0220s L'année dernière
P: I think Hopkins was a very good orchestra (A-) but just lacked that stunning edge that Ellington Armstrong and Henderson could magically create. Fame was so close and the road to fame can be frustrating and unforgiving but is usually correct. He should not have died dispirited after his achievements. Just look at the number of great musicians such as Alberta Hunter and Sam Wooding who quit show biz to pursue other careers (and died happy)!
Par Somerset45 L'année dernière
Now that I think of it , it was Jimmie Lunceford that did "Hells Bells" . It was all good ~
Par Kerry Flow L'année dernière
Thank you ! I love Claude Hopkins ! Did he also do "Hells Bells" ?
Par Kerry Flow L'année dernière
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Par kspm0220s L'année dernière
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