Roy Eldridge (1911-1989) was a jazz trumpeter who rose to fame
during the Swing era, and whose career lasted until shortly before
his death. He was a big influence on Dizzy Gillespie, among others, and
was known for taking risks on the bandstand, which made for some
exciting performances. Although never fully embracing Bebop, he
apparently didn’t feel “outdated” when it became the dominant force
in Jazz, and continued to make music in his own, unique way.
“Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux Presents Roy Eldridge ’77” is a 65-minute
DVD of a set that Roy played in August 1977, at the Montreux Jazz
Festival in Switzerland. After a four-minute introduction from noted Jazz
authority, Nat Hentoff, this 53-minute set begins by treating us to a
wonderful rendition of “Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea,”
followed by “Blues,” “I Surrender Dear,” “Dale’s Wail,” and “Perdido.”
As an encore, we received a rendition of “Bye Bye Blackbird.” By this time,
Roy Eldridge had long since achieved “living legend” status. Although
he generally sounded fine, perhaps he was not captured here at his best.
However, I’d like to see and hear more footage of him from previous
decades, in order to make a more accurate assessment.
His colleagues were fantastic. Oscar Peterson played the piano, and
Niels Pedersen played bass, with Bobby Durham on drums. Peterson
played like the true virtuoso that he was, sweating up a storm and
enjoying every minute of it. I’d seen footage of Niels Pedersen from the
1960’s before, and at that time, I thought he was one of the most
impressive upright Jazz bassists I’d ever seen. He was given a chance
to solo in each song, sometimes quite extensively, showcasing his
awesome facility. Bobby Durham was no less good on the drum set,
providing tasteful accompaniment, as well as the occasional short solo.
Given the status of the performers, the crowd was understandably
appreciative, and the engineers captured the recorded sound very well.
Bonus features include an appreciation of Jazz impresario/producer,
Norman Granz, again given by Nat Hentoff, and a couple of brief art
and photo gallery extras. Released on the Eagle Eye Media label in 2004,
this DVD is well worth checking out, particularly by those interested in Jazz.