Red Rodney, c. June 1946
|Birth name||Robert Chudnick|
September 27, 1927|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||May 27, 1994
Boynton Beach, Florida
|Labels||Savoy, Fantasy, Muse, Sonet, Steeplechase, Chesky|
|Associated acts||Charlie Parker, Ira Sullivan|
Robert Roland Chudnick (September 27, 1927 – May 27, 1994), known professionally as Red Rodney, was an American jazz trumpeter.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he became a professional musician at 15, working in the mid-1940s for the big bands of Jerry Wald, Jimmy Dorsey, Georgie Auld, Elliot Lawrence, Benny Goodman, and Les Brown. He was inspired by hearing Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to change his style to bebop, moving on to play with Claude Thornhill, Gene Krupa, and Woody Herman.
He accepted an invitation from Charlie Parker to join his quintet. and was a member of the band from 1949–1951. As the only white member of the group, he was billed as "Albino Red" when playing in the southern United States. During this time he recorded extensively.
During the 1950s, he worked as a bandleader in Philadelphia and recorded with Ira Sullivan. He became addicted to heroin and started a pattern of dropping in and out of jazz. In 1958 he left jazz because of diminishing opportunities, lack of acceptance as a white bebop trumpeter, and legal problems due to his heroin addiction. He continued to work in other musical fields. Although he continued to be paid well, he supported his drug habit through theft and fraud, eventually spending 27 months in prison.
In 1963, during a run-in with police, a detective hit him in the mouth, loosening several teeth and starting the cycle of dental issues that continued into the 1970s. In September 1963, his father died; a month later, while his wife was driving him back from a Las Vegas gig, she lost control of their car and plunged down a Nevada highway embankment. Asleep in the back seat, he awoke to find his wife and 14-year-old daughter dead.
During 1969, Rodney played in Las Vegas with fellow Woody Herman colleague, trombonist Bill Harris, as part of the Flamingo casino house band led by Russ Black. Similar work continued through 1972.
In the early 1970s he was bankrupted by medical costs following a stroke. He returned to jazz. In 1975 he was incarcerated in Sandstone, Minnesota for drug offenses. While jailed he gave music lessons to guitarist Wayne Kramer of the MC5.
He reunited with Ira Sullivan and performed with Dizzy Gillespie. From 1980 to 1982, Rodney made five albums with Sullivan. On these albums he started to play post bop jazz. He continued to work and record into the 1990s. He performed on a Charlie Parker tribute album by Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones. He provided an early showcase for saxophonist Chris Potter, who was a member of his group and only 19 years old when Rodney recorded Red Alert in late 1990.
He performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the JVC Jazz Festival. He worked as an adviser for Bird, a movie about Charlie Parker directed by Clint Eastwood. Michael Zelniker played him in the movie.
Mark Rodney, Red Rodney's son, was a guitarist with the acoustic duo Batdorf and Rodney. Rodney's youngest son, Jeff Rodney, is a musician and disc jockey known as Jammin' Jeff.
- 1951: First Sessions – Volume 3 (Savoy)
- 1952: Red Rodney Quintets (Fantasy)
- 1957: Red Rodney 1957 (Signal) with Ira Sullivan, Tommy Flanagan, Oscar Pettiford, Philly Joe Jones
- 1959: Fiery (Savoy)
- 1959: Red Rodney Returns (Argo)
- 1973: Bird Lives! (Muse)
- 1974: Superbop (Muse) with Sam Noto
- 1975: The Red Tornado (Muse)
- 1976: Yard's Pad (Sonet) with Arne Domnerus, Red Mitchell, Ed Thigpen, Bengt Hallberg.
- 1977: Home Free (Muse) - released 1979
- 1978: Red, White and Blues (Muse)
- 1979: The 3R's (Muse) with Richie Cole and Ricky Ford - released 1982
- 1980: Live at the Village Vanguard (Muse) with Ira Sullivan
- 1980: Hi Jinx at the Vanguard (Muse) with Ira Sullivan - released 1984
- 1980: Alive in New York (Muse) with Ira Sullivan - released 1986
- 1981: Night and Day (Muse) with Ira Sullivan
- 1981: Spirit Within (Elektra/Musician) with Ira Sullivan - released 1982
- 1982: Sprint (Elekra/Musician) with Ira Sullivan - released 1983
- 1984: Social Call (Uptown) with Charlie Rouse
- 1986: No Turn on Red (Denon)
- 1988: Red Giant (Steeplechase)
- 1988: One for Bird (Steeplechase)
- 1988: Red Snapper (Steeplechase)
- 1992: Then and Now (Chesky)
- 1993: The Tivoli Session (Steeplechase)
- 1945: Charlie Ventura: 1945–1946 (Classics)
- 1946: Buddy Rich: 1946–1948 (Classics)
- 1948: Woody Herman: Keeper of the Flame (Capitol)
- 1949: Charlie Parker: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve
- 1949: Charlie Parker: Swedish Schnapps (Verve)
- 1950: Charlie Parker: Bird at St. Nick's
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Clifford Jordan
- Dr. Chicago (Bee Hive, 1984)
With Lee Konitz
- Live at Laren (Soul Note, 1979 )
With Ira Sullivan
- Ira Sullivan Does It All (Muse, 1981 )
With the Bob Thiele Collective
- Louis Satchmo (1991)
- Yanow, Scott. "Red Rodney | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Watrous, Peter (28 May 1994). "Red Rodney, Jazz Trumpeter And Band Leader, Dies at 66". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2017.