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Claude Hopkins


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Alexandria, Washington DC VA, United States (1903 – 1984)

Claude Driskett Hopkins (1903-1984) was a U.S. jazz bandleader and pianist in the stride style.

Hopkins was born on the 24th August 1903 in Alexandria, Virginia (though historians differ in respect of the actual date of his birth). His parents were on the faculty of Howard University. A highly talented stride piano player and arranger, he left home at the age of twenty-one as a sideman with the Wilbur Sweatman Orchestra, but stayed with them for less than a year. In 1925 he left for Europe as the musical director of The Revue Negre, which starred Josephine Baker, and had Sidney Bechet in the band.

He returned to the U.S.A. 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 later to become famous in their own right, such as Edmond Hall, Jabbo Smith, and Vic Dickenson (although it’s worth noting that 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.

He broke up the band in 1940 and used his arranging talents working for several non-jazz band leaders and for CBS. In 1948-49 he led a novelty band briefly, but took a jazz band into The Cafe Society in 1950.


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  • albertovilaorti

    No he escuchado demasiado a este músico, pero lo que he podido escuchar me parece muy bueno. Sé que nació en 1903 y murió en 1984. Los registros que tengo correponden a grabaciones realizadas entre 1937 y 1940. Las de 1937 están hechas a su nombre, como las de 1940. Las de 1938 a nombre de Ovie Alston. Con la excepción de Jabbo Smith, Vic Dickenson, Chauncey Haugton, Herman Autrey y Howard Johnson, los otros músicos no me resultan conocidos. Una curiosa coincidencia. Uno de los temas que grabó Hopkins se titula "Out to lunch", compuesto por él. Nada tiene que ver con el tema del mismo nombre de Eric Dolphy, pero me hizo sonreir esa misma denominación para dos forma de hacer jazz tan diferentes. Gary Vila Ortiz. Rosario. Argentina.

    14 Mar 2010 Reply

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