Although it is often overlooked, Phil Napoleon was one of the top trumpeters to be active in New York during 1921-1925. At a time when most so-called hot players in the Big Apple were still playing staccato and halting lines (not being up to the level of their Chicago counterparts), Napoleon's warm sound and legato phrasing swung (before the word had been coined). Classically trained, Napoleon decided to play popular music. By 1921, he was recording frequently with many overlapping groups (most notably the Original Memphis Five, Ladd's Black Aces, the Carolina Cotton Pickers, and, later on, the Charleston Chasers), appearing on literally hundreds of excellent melodic jazz records where his appealing tone and solid lead were a major asset. Although a slight influence on Red Nichols and Bix Beiderbecke (as much for his professionalism and consistency as for his tone), Napoleon never did become a big name. He worked in the studios during the 1930s and '40s, leading his own big band briefly in 1938 and spending part of 1943 with Jimmy Dorsey. In 1949, he emerged with a new version of the Original Memphis Five, playing Dixieland for seven years at Nick's. Napoleon eventually moved to Miami, opened a club called Napoleon's Retreat, and played regularly during his declining years. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi

Bass Ale Blues - Original Memphis Five (Phil Napoleon & Miff Mole) (1925)
THE CAT - Phil Napoleon and His Orchestra
Phil Napoleon's Emperors Mean To Me
MOON OF JAPAN - Phil Napoleon and his Orchestra
Phil Napoleon and the Memphis Five - Diga Diga Do (Live Recording 1952) 33rpm JAZZ
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