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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 76-98 of 98 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Edison 18557 10-in. 6/1/1928 No parking Palais D'Or Orchestra ; B. A. Rolfe Jazz/dance band songwriter  
Edison S-19 10-in. 1928 Five pennies - Test recording Phil Napoleon Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Edison N-284 10-in. 6/1/1928 No parking Palais D'Or Orchestra ; B. A. Rolfe Jazz/dance band songwriter  
Vocalion E2209-E2211 10-in. 1/23/1926 Bass ale blues Hottentots Jazz/dance band composer  
Decca 71693 10-in. 1/19/1944 I'm in love with someone Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 71694 10-in. 1/19/1944 Holiday for strings-1 Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 71695 10-in. 1/19/1944 Two again Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 71773 10-in. 2/16/1944 Ohio Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 71774 10-in. 2/16/1944 The champ-1 Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 75968 3/15/1950 Fair Jennie's lament Phil Napoleon and his Memphis Five instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 75969 3/15/1950 When the Saints go marching in Phil Napoleon and his Memphis Five instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 75970 3/15/1950 The Blue Danube goes Dixieland Phil Napoleon and his Memphis Five instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 75971 3/15/1950 Alabama blues Phil Napoleon and his Memphis Five instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3212 10-in. 10/7/1943 My first love Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3213 10-in. 10/7/1943 That wonderful worrisome feeling Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3214 10-in. 10/7/1943 Besame mucho (Kiss me much) Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3215 10-in. 10/7/1943 King Porter stomp Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3216 10-in. 10/7/1943 Star eyes Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3217 10-in. 10/7/1943 They're either too young or too old Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3246 10-in. 10/27/1943 Do you know? Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3247 10-in. 10/27/1943 My ideal Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3248 10-in. 10/27/1943 Sack house stomp Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca L 3249 10-in. 10/27/1943 When they ask about you Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra instrumentalist, trumpet  
(Results 76-98 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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