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|
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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