Roy Eldridge: In Paris
Trumpeter Roy Eldridge left the United States for Paris in 1950 fearing that the emergence of bebop, which he had strongly influenced, would make his more traditional style of playing obsolete and lose him his formerly adoring audiences. Eldridge did not stay in Paris for as long as some of his colleagues, but he managed to produce some fine, swinging recordings during his time abroad. In Paris documents two vibrant, gem-filled, European recording sessions and still sounds hip over 60 years after it was made.
The album, which also features saxophonist Zoot Sims, incorporates an ear-tickling variety of material including ballads, mid and up-tempo swingers, and even a couple Latin-flavored grooves. A gentle rhythm section supports Eldridge, giving him plenty of room to be the star of the record, and numerous alternate takes add to the great breadth of music.
Eldridge's performances on the album's ballads are sensational. The trumpeter establishes tranquil dominance of his tone and sense of time on "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams," soulfully coasting through heartfelt dynamic shifts and playing raucous half-growls and simmering sub tones in all the right places. He maintains this equilibrium on the slow, swinging "If I Had You" and "Someone To Watch Over Me," as he floats the melodies over the appropriately somber rhythm section.
But not all of the tunes are sad and sentimental. Eldridge burns with dexterity on "Wild Driver" and lays back with cool confidence on "Easter Parade." On the Duke Ellington standard "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing," Eldridge sings and trades scat solos with vocalist Anita Love. His delivery is exuberant almost to the point of overzealousness, but Love's slier approach balances the exchange. Sims's softer, well-developed solo on the same track complements the vocalists in an understated way.
The band has some fun with the novelty song "Ain't No Flies On Me," another Love/Eldridge duet. Following a flirtatious, half-sung conversation mixing French and English over a loping vamp in two-time, Love tells Eldridge to "Blow blow blow," and Eldridge obliges with a playfully energetic solo that elicits guttural exclamations of approval from Love.
In Paris provides an opportunity to examine Eldridge's influential work in a small group setting with fine supporting musicians. It also serves as evidence that Eldridge never really ran the risk of being overshadowed by more modern musicians, despite their propensity for greater harmonic sophistication. The album exemplifies how cool small group jazz in the swing tradition can be.
Tracks: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); The Man I Love; The Man I Love; Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away); Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away); Ain't No Flies On Me; Undecided; Undecided; Undecided; Undecided; King David; Wild Driver; Wild Driver; If I Had You; Nuts; Easter Parade; Easter Parade; Goliath Bounce; Someone To Watch Over Me.
Personnel: Roy Eldridge: trumpet, vocals; Anita Love: vocals; Zoot Sims: tenor saxophone; Dick Hyman: piano; Gerald Wiggins: piano; Pierre Michelot: bass; Ed Shaughnessy: drums; Kenny Clarke: drums.