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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 26-50 of 98 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-51802 10-in. 4/11/1929 You'll come back to me someday Irene Beasley Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Victor BVE-51809 10-in. 4/18/1929 Just in time Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51810 10-in. 4/18/1929 I've got to have a mamma now Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51811 10-in. 4/18/1929 When Carolina smiles Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-51812 10-in. 4/18/1929 Bay rum song Billy Hays Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-53506 10-in. 5/23/1929 Getting hot Joe Venuti Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-53507 10-in. 5/23/1929 Anything (Slow fox trot) Napoleon's Emperors Jazz/dance band composer, director  
Victor BVE-53508 10-in. 5/23/1929 You can't cheat a cheater Napoleon's Emperors Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-53615 10-in. 5/14/1929 Mean to me Napoleon's Emperors Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BVE-53616 10-in. 5/14/1929 My kinda love Napoleon's Emperors Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, cornet  
Victor BS-055961 10-in. 9/9/1940 Anything Frank Sinatra ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
Columbia 81394 10-in. 12/4/1923 Shufflin' Mose Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
Columbia 81886 10-in. 7/25/1924 Sioux City Sue Joseph A. Griffith ; Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Columbia W141711 10-in. 2/23/1926 Bass ale blues Joe Candullo ; Everglades Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Columbia W143336 10-in. 1/21/1927 Clarinet marmalade The Emperors Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia W143337 10-in. 1/21/1927 A blues serenade The Emperors Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia W143338 10-in. 1/21/1927 Go, Joe, go The Emperors Jazz/dance band songwriter, leader  
Columbia W143979 10-in. 4/15/1927 So long, Joe New Orleans Owls Jazz/dance band songwriter  
Columbia W148617 10-in. 5/23/1929 Gotta feelin' for you The Seven Hot Air-Men Jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Columbia W148618 10-in. 5/23/1929 Low down rhythm The Seven Hot Air-Men Jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, trumpet  
Columbia W151422 10-in. 3/13/1931 At dusk Kate Smith Female vocal solo songwriter  
Columbia W151889 10-in. 11/24/1931 Anything Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh W401822 10-in. 4/23/1929 You can't cheat a cheater Tom Dorsey Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance quartet composer  
OKeh W401988 10-in. 5/27/1929 Left my gal in the mountains Black Brothers Male vocal duet, with cornet and guitars instrumentalist, cornet  
OKeh W401989 10-in. 5/27/1929 Goin' back to Texas Black Brothers Male vocal duet, with cornet and guitars instrumentalist, cornet  
(Results 26-50 of 98 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Napoleon, Phil," accessed October 24, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.

Napoleon, Phil. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.

"Napoleon, Phil." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 24 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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