Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins - powerhouse piano with a long and celebrated run.

Claude Hopkins – Live At Cafe Zanzibar – 1945 – Past Daily Downbeat

Claude Hopkins
Claude Hopkins – powerhouse piano with a long and celebrated run.

Claude Hopkins Big Band – Ella Fitzgerald – Marie Ellington – The Ink Spots – Maurice Rocco – February 28, 1945 – Let’s Go Nightclubbing – NBC – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Making a brief stop in Big Band territory this week with a club date from Claude Hopkins and his band, along with Ella Fitzgerald, Marie Ellington, The Ink Spots and Maurice Rocco from the radio series Let’s Go Nightclubbing from February 28, 1945.

Claude Hopkins never really got the credit he deserved for leading one of the more forward-thinking bands of the mid-late 40s. 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. He broke up his first group just as the Big Band era was at its height, although he led various incarnations over the years, his primary stock-and-trade was the piano, although you don’t get much of that here aside from the occasional glissando here and there. His career went from the 1930s through to the early 70s with a heft legacy of recordings to his credit.

The rest of this gig consists of a young Ella Fitzgerald, Marie Fitzgerald, The Ink Spots and a somewhat frantic Maurice Rocco laying down some intricate piano solos. All in all a good and wide-ranging show that suffers in spots from damaged transcription discs but not bad enough to be distracting.

Enjoy the show.

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