Red Nichols

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Peter McNeill, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
  2. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    Fantastic clip. I saw the movie "The Five Pennies" as a kid. He actually play on the soundtrack. His "Battle Hynm of the Republic" is simple great.

  3. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    I read this off Youtube:
    Ernest Loring "Red" Nichols (May 8, 1905 -- June 28, 1965)
    Later career
    Nichols kept himself alive during the first years of the Great Depression by playing in show bands and pit orchestras. He led Bob Hope's orchestra for a while, moving out to California. He'd married Willa Stutsman, a "stunning" George White "Scandals" dancer, and they had a daughter. She came down with polio (misdiagnosed at first as spinal meningitis) in 1942, and Nichols quit a gig playing with Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and left the music business to work in the wartime shipyards.
    Unable to stay away from music, Nichols formed a new Five Pennies band and began playing small clubs in the Los Angeles area soon after the war ended. Before long the word was out and musicians began showing up, turning his gigs into jam sessions.
    Soon the little club dates were turning into more prestigious bookings at the chic Zebra Room, the Tudor Room of San Francisco's Palace Hotel, and Pasadena's posh Sheraton. He toured Europe as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department. Nichols and his band performed briefly, billed as themselves, in Quicksand, a 1950 crime film starring Mickey Rooney. And in 1956 he was the subject of one of Ralph Edwards' This Is Your Life TV shows, which featured his old buddies Miff Mole, Phil Harris and Jimmy Dorsey, who praised Nichols as a bandleader who made sure everybody got paid.
    The 1959 Hollywood film The Five Pennies, the film biography of Red Nichols, starring Danny Kaye as Red Nichols, was very loosely based on Nichols' career. Nichols played his own trumpet parts for the film, but did not appear on screen. The Paramount movie received four Academy Award nominations. "The Five Pennies" movie theme song was composed by Sylvia Fine, the wife of Danny Kaye. Nichols also made a cameo appearance in the biopic The Gene Krupa Story in 1959.
    In 1965 Nichols took his Five Pennies band to Las Vegas, to play at the then-new Mint Hotel. He was only a few days into the date when, on June 28, 1965, he was sleeping in his suite and was awakened by paralyzing chest pains. He managed to call the front desk and an ambulance was summoned, but it arrived too late. That night the band went on as scheduled, but at the center of the band a spotlight pointed down at an empty chair in Nichols' customary spot. Red's bright and shiny cornet sat alone on the chair. Around it swirled the "happy music" Nichols had loved all his life.

    There does not seem to be much around after the late '30s. I was more interested in early '60s.
    I have watched the movie several times as well. Great playing, and love the 3 part vocal harmony (Armstrong, Kaye and his stage daughter).
    Any later tunes appreciated.
  4. MFfan

    MFfan Fortissimo User

    Sep 13, 2006
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    It looks like a Selmer (buttons). Player/horn combinations has him playing a Selmer in the 50's but nothing listed for after that.
  5. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    At one time in the 60s he was an endorsing artist for Olds, but the cornet he was playing in the video sure didn't look like an Olds.
  6. tyleman

    tyleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 20, 2009
    Monpazier, France
    It's a Selmer. I owned one at one time that looked very similar, in silver plate. I don't think that was a standard finish. I've owned several in brass lacquer.

    There have been stories over the years that Red worked out all of his solos in advance and memorized them. This clip lends credence to the fact that he actually could improvise on the spot.

    IMO he's the most interesting player of the three in the clip. (That said, I'm not an Al Hirt fan.)
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  7. keehun

    keehun Piano User

    Feb 4, 2010
    I just watched it and my jaw dropped as soon as I saw the bulge of muscles on Al Hirt's face around the mouth, upper lips, adjacent to the nose. I have not seen that much muscle development in that area... even from pros.
  8. optiguytom

    optiguytom Pianissimo User

    Aug 29, 2009
    Chattanooga, TN
    Red's in great company, but IMHO he blew them away with class and beautiful improv. No strain, no pain, just beautiful notes.

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