From the Record Shelves #236

Farewell Blues

LP Jazz Panorama 13

I have a faint memory of seeing his name as a piano accompanist to a striptease act here in Malmö, Sweden, in the 1960s. I was too young to be allowed into that venue.

Claude Hopkins (1903–1984) had a long career, from playing in Wilbur Sweatman’s Orchestra, leading a band for Josephine Baker and touring Europe, recording with Clarence Williams in New York around 1933, and here leading his own big band in 1935. Later in life he led various small groups including several jazz greats.

Another one with a long and varied career was Edmond Hall (1901–1967) who was a member of this orchestra at the time, playing clarinet, alto, and baritone sax. You see him in an early iconic photo with the legendary Buddy Petit in his hometown New Orleans, and you hear him many years later as a member of Louis Armstrong’s All Stars, and then you hear Danish musician friends speak fondly of him as he lived and played in Copenhagen for some time. In every number on this LP, I’m hoping to hear a few bars of his incisive clarinet playing. Other soloists on this number, if I should trust the sparse information on the “pirate” LP, are Ovie Alston on trumpet and Bobby Sands on tenor sax. And then Hopkins himself, just before we are rewarded with a few bars of said clarinet playing.

The band has a typical Harlem sound.