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Claude Hopkins

A talented stride pianist, Claude Hopkins never became as famous as he deserved. He was a bandleader early on, and toured Europe in the mid-'20s as the musical director for Josephine Baker. Hopkins returned to the U.S. in 1926, led his own groups, and in 1930 took over Charlie Skeete's band. Between 1932-1935, he recorded steadily with his big band (all of the music has been reissued on three Classics CDs), which featured Jimmy Mundy arrangements and such fine soloists as trumpeter/vocalist Ovie Alston, trombonist Fernando Arbello, a young Edmond Hall on clarinet, and baritone and tenorman Bobby Sands, along with the popular high-note vocals of Orlando Roberson. The orchestra's recordings are a bit erratic, with more than their share of mistakes from the ensembles and a difficulty in integrating Hopkins' powerhouse piano with the full group, but they are generally quite enjoyable. Mundy's eccentric "Mush Mouth" is a classic, and Hopkins introduced his best-known original, "I Would Do Anything for You." Although they played regularly at Roseland (1931-1935) and the Cotton Club (1935-1936), and there were further sessions in 1937 and 1940, the Claude Hopkins big band never really caught on and ended up breaking up at the height of the swing era. Hopkins did lead a later, unrecorded big band (1944-1947), but mostly worked with small groups for the remainder of his career. He played with Red Allen's group during the second half of the 1950s, led his own band during 1960-1966, and in 1968 was in the Jazz Giants with Wild Bill Davison. Claude Hopkins led an obscure record for 20th Century Fox (1958) and three Swingville albums (1960-1963), but his best later work were solo stride dates for Chiaroscuro and Sackville (both in 1972), and a trio session for Black & Blue in 1974; it is surprising that his piano skills were not more extensively documented. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: An Anthology Of Big Band Swing (1930-1955)

Disc 1

1. Rockin' In Rhythm

2. House Of David Blues

3. Saratoga Drag

4. Savage Rhythm

5. Chant Of The Weed

6. St. Louis Blues

8. Down South Camp Meeting

9. Avalon

13. Stompin' At The Savoy

14. Peg O' My Heart

15. One O'Clock Jump

16. Casa Loma Stomp

17. South Rampart Street Parade

18. Liza

19. Dunkin' A Doughnut

20. You Rascal, You

Disc 2

3. Jamaica Jam

5. Blues In The Groove

7. Swingmatism

8. Savoy

9. Blue River

10. Chicago

11. Fish Market

12. Gambler's Blues

14. Skyliner

15. Million Dollar Smile

16. Midriff

17. Bear Mash Blues

18. The Continental

20. One O'Clock Jump

x

Track List: Jazz Piano Masters: Live At The New School

2. Solitude / Take The A Train

3. The Man I Love / Someone To Watch Over Me / Nice Work If You Can Get It

4. Body And Soul

6. One O'Clock Jump

8. Indiana

9. Squeeze Me

10. I Would Do Most Anything For You

11. Three Little Words

12. Crying My Heart Out For You

13. John Hammond And Dill Jones Comments

14. Just Squeeze Me

15. African Ripples

16. Sign Of The Lion

17. Little Rock Getaway

20. Melodic Rag

21. Tricky Fingers

23. Memories Of You

Comments

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