26 DEC 12 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Roy Eldridge (1911-1989) was one of those players who truly loved to jam. Recorded onstage in 1975, Decidedly (Fantasy, 2002) captures the trumpet player in stellar like-minded company: Tenor sax ace Johnny Griffin, guitarist Joe Pass and pianist Ray Bryant, with bassist Neils-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Louis Bellson manning the rhythm engine. Decidedly offers no band introductions, no song introductions, no thank yous or goodbyes -- just the sound of talented friends stretching four tunes out for almost an hour, playing great music and having a ball.
Eldridge takes charge of the Basie-sounding jump "Undecided" with peppery trumpet blasts that swing like Dixieland cornet, while bass and drums keep the tempo and piano keeps the rhythm hot. He carries his ballad torch, starkly yet beautifully burning, for "Lover Man (O Where Can You Be?)," each note brimming with melody and meaning. Vibes ace Milt Jackson sits in on piano for Monk's "Hackensack" and scurries through his solo like a big city mouse while Eldridge sketches a solo that connects the dots between Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.
Some of Eldridge's best work -- such as The Trumpet Kings At Montreux with Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie (Original Jazz Classics, 1990), which also features Ørsted Pedersen and Bellson as rhythm, Loose Walk with Count Basie (Pablo, 1998) and Jazz At The Philharmonic In Tokyo: Live At The Nichigeki Theatre 1953 (Pablo, 1990) -- was captured from jam sessions and live recordings.