Claude Hopkins

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Claude Hopkins
Birth nameClaude Driskett Hopkins
Born(1903-08-24)August 24, 1903
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S
DiedFebruary 19, 1984(1984-02-19) (aged 80)
New York City
GenresJazz
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader
InstrumentsPiano
Years active1924–1984

Claude Driskett Hopkins (August 24, 1903 – February 19, 1984)[1] was an American jazz stride pianist and bandleader.

Biography[edit]

Claude Hopkins was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1903. Historians differ in respect of the actual date of his birth. His parents were on the faculty of Howard University. A talented stride piano player and arranger, he left home at the age of 21 to become a sideman with the Wilbur Sweatman Orchestra but stayed less than a year.[2] In 1925, he left for Europe as the musical director of The Revue Negre which starred Josephine Baker[3] with Sidney Bechet in the band.

He returned to the USA in 1927 where, based in Washington, he toured the TOBA circuit with The Ginger Snaps Revue before heading once again for New York City where he took over the band of Charlie Skeets. At this time (1932–36), he led a fairly successful Harlem band employing many jazz musicians who were to become famous in their own right, such as Edmond Hall, Jabbo Smith and Vic Dickenson (although his records were arranged to feature his piano more than his band). This was his most successful period, with long residencies at the Savoy and Roseland ballrooms and at the Cotton Club. In 1937 he took his band on the road with a great deal of success.

The high-pitched vocals of Orlando Roberson (Orlando Herbert Roberson 1909–1977) brought the band a good part of its popularity.[3] The band included Ovie Alston, Fernando Arbello, Shirley Clay, Vic Dickenson, Edmond Hall, Arville Harris, Pete Jacobs, Sylvester Lewis, Ben Smith, and Jabbo Smith.[4]

He broke up the band in 1940 and used his arranging talents working for several non-jazz band leaders and for CBS. In 1948/9 he led a "novelty" band briefly but took a jazz band into The Cafe Society in 1950. From 1951 until his death, he remained in New York City, working mostly as a sideman with other Dixieland bands at festivals, New York clubs, and recording. He died on February 19, 1984.[2][5]

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Red Allen

  • Jazz at the Metropole Cafe with Cozy Cole, Charlie Shavers (Bethlehem, 1955)
  • At Newport with Kid Ory, Jack Teagarden (Verve, 1957)

With Cozy Cole

  • After Hours with Jimmy McPartland (Grand Award, 1956)
  • Cozy Cole and His Big Seven (Grand Award, 1958
  • Caravan (Grand Award, 1959)
  • Cozy Cole and Other All-Time Jazz Stars (Colortone, 1959)

With Bud Freeman

With Coleman Hawkins

With Lonnie Johnson

With Ma Rainey

  • Blame It on the Blues (Milestone, 1969)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oldies.com
  2. ^ a b Lee, William F. (2005). American Big Bands. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 111. ISBN 0634080547.
  3. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Claude Hopkins: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  4. ^ Walker, Leo (1989). The Big Band Almanac (Revised ed.). New York: Da Capo. p. 200. ISBN 0-306-80345-3.
  5. ^ Wilson, John S. (23 February 1984). "Claude Hopkins, Jazz Pianist". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2019.