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 51-75 of 98 records)
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Brunswick||9310-9312||10-in.||approximately Nov. 1922||Great white way blues||Cotton Pickers||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Brunswick||11428-11431||10-in.||9/26/1923||Just hot||Cotton Pickers||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Brunswick||11432-11434||10-in.||9/26/1923||Shufflin' Mose||Cotton Pickers||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Brunswick||E29579||10-in.||4/5/1929||Memphis blues||The Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||arranger|
|Brunswick||E29580||10-in.||4/5/1929||Beale Street blues||The Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||arranger|
|Brunswick||E29581||10-in.||4/5/1929||Kansas City Kitty||The Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo; without vocal||arranger|
|Brunswick||E29847||10-in.||5/16/1929||No parking||Cotton Pickers||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||songwriter|
|Brunswick||E22442-E22444||10-in.||4/15/1927||Go, Joe, go||Hal Kemp Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||songwriter|
|Brunswick||E22978-E22980||10-in.||5/5/1927||Go, Joe, go||Hal Kemp Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal trio||songwriter|
|Edison||9077||10-in.||7/16/1923||The great white way blues||Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Edison||9078||10-in.||7/16/1923||Shufflin' Mose||Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Edison||9253||10-in.||11/20/1923||Back o' town blues||Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||9254||10-in.||11/20/1923||St. Louis gal||Original Memphis Five||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11177||10-in.||9/2/1926||Bass ale blues||Joe Candullo ; Everglades Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||composer|
|Edison||11394||10-in.||12/23/1926||Go, Joe, go||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||songwriter, leader|
|Edison||11395||10-in.||12/23/1926||Tiger rag||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11539||10-in.||2/25/1927||It made you happy when you made me cry||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11540||10-in.||2/25/1927||The cat (A spooky novelty!)||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11594||10-in.||3/22/1927||Rubber heels (A bouncing rhythm)||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11595||10-in.||3/22/1927||Clarinet marmalade||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11628||10-in.||4/6/1927||Mary dear (I miss you most of all)||J. Donald Parker ; Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||leader|
|Edison||11629||10-in.||4/6/1927||La lo la||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||11630||10-in.||4/6/1927||Underneath the weeping willow||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||18027||10-in.||11/11/1927||Moon of Japan||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
|Edison||18028||10-in.||11/11/1927||Five pennies||Phil Napoleon Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||leader|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Napoleon, Phil," accessed October 22, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.
Napoleon, Phil. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106417.
"Napoleon, Phil." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 22 October 2020.
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