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Phil Napoleon

Phil Napoleon (2 September 1901 – 1 October 1990), born Filippo Napoli, was an early jazz trumpeter and bandleader born in Boston, Massachusetts. Ron Wynn notes that Napoleon "was a competent, though unimaginative trumpeter whose greatest value was the many recording sessions he led that helped increase jazz's popularity in the mid-'20s." Richard Cook and Brian Morton, writing for The Penguin Guide to Jazz, refer to Napoleon as "a genuine pioneer" whose playing was "profoundly influential on men such as Red Nichols and Bix Beiderbecke."

Napoleon began with classical training, and was performing publicly by age 5. In the 1910s, he was one of the first musicians in the northeastern United States to embrace the new "jass" style brought to that part of the country by musicians from New Orleans, Louisiana. With pianist Frank Signorelli he formed the group "The Original Memphis Five" in 1917. He became one of the most sought after trumpeters of the 1920s. The group were very prolific, one of the most prolific in New York City at the time, and in 1922-1923 alone made over a hundred recordings. Napoleon's 1927 version of "Clarinet Marmalade" was a particular success. The Original Memphis Five split in 1928. During the 1930s Napoleon mainly worked as a session trumpeter, working in the RCA Radio Orchestra in the early 1930s, and in 1937 unsuccessfully tried to form his own orchestra. He recorded with the Cotton Pickers and the Charleston Chasers and also worked with blues singers Leona Williams and Alberta Hunter.

Napoleon joined Jimmy Dorsey's then Los Angeles-based group in the mid 1940s, and he appeared with the band in the film Four Jills in a Jeep. Parting with Dorsey in 1947, he moved back to New York and worked as a studio musician at NBC until 1949-1950 when he reformed The Original Memphis Five. During the early 1950s the group became noted for their performances at Nick's in New York City. Phil also worked frequently with his nephew Marty Napoleon, a jazz pianist. On July 3, 1959, Napoleon and The Five performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, later released as an album. In 1966 opened up his own club named "Napoleon's Retreat" in Miami, Florida where he lived until his death, although continued to perform Dixieland jazz in the club up until the 1980s.

Birth and Death Data: Born September 2nd, 1901 (Boston), Died North Miami

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1922 - 1950

Roles Represented in DAHR: trumpet, composer, leader, cornet, songwriter, director, arranger, piano

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 98 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-30250 10-in. 6/6/1924 Just hot Pennsylvanians ; Fred Waring Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-30372 10-in. 7/9/1924 Sioux City Sue Ross Gorman ; Virginians Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-30877 10-in. 10/1/1924 Meanest blues The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-31913 10-in. 2/4/1925 Throw down blues The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-33388 10-in. 9/17/1925 Bass ale blues The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-33546 10-in. 10/7/1925 Lookin' for blues The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-37744 10-in. 2/7/1927 Tiger rag Phil Napoleon Orchestra Jazz/dance band director  
Victor BVE-37745 10-in. 2/7/1927 Clarinet marmalade Phil Napoleon Orchestra Jazz/dance band director  
Victor BVE-38313 10-in. 3/31/1927 Take your finger out of your mouth (I want a kiss from you) Phil Napoleon Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BVE-38314 10-in. 3/31/1927 Go Joe go Phil Napoleon Orchestra Jazz/dance band director, composer  
Victor BVE-50885 10-in. 5/16/1929 Sittin' and whittlin' Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-50886 10-in. 5/16/1929 Do you believe? Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51014 10-in. 3/8/1929 My sugar and me Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51015 10-in. 3/8/1929 Sweet Virginia rose Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51016 10-in. 3/8/1929 Will the angels play their harps for me? Bud Billings Male vocal solo, with violin, cornet, and guitar instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51017 10-in. 3/8/1929 The wanderer's warning Bud Billings Male vocal solo, with violin, cornet, and guitar instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51018 10-in. 3/8/1929 All by yourself in the moonlight Billy and his Teagarden Orchestra [i.e., Billy Hayes Orchestra] Jazz/dance band, with male vocal chorus instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51019 10-in. 3/8/1929 I'm wild about horns on automobiles, that go ta-ta-ta-ta Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51095 10-in. 4/10/1929 Baby's back to-day Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51096 10-in. 4/10/1929 Furniture man blues Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51097 10-in. 4/10/1929 Sometimes I wonder Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51098 10-in. 4/10/1929 What would I do without you? Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51099 10-in. 4/11/1929 Sun's gonna shine Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51800 10-in. 4/11/1929 Moon song Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51801 10-in. 4/11/1929 Applesauce Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
(Results 1-25 of 98 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Napoleon, Phil," accessed October 29, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.

Napoleon, Phil. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.

"Napoleon, Phil." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 29 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417

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