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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 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  
(Results 51-75 of 98 records)

Citation

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.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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