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Phil Napoleon (1901-1990)
Phil Napoleon 1943 Napoleon (2 September 1901 – 1 October 1990) was a classically trained trumpet player, but he turned his back the concert hall and formed The Original Memphis Five with pianist Frank Signorelli in 1917. The band was one of the most popular and prolific outfits of the 1920’s and featured the trombone playing of Miff Mole.

They recorded hundreds records under their own name and a variety of a pseudonyms, including Bailey’s Lucky SevenThe Southland SixLadd’s Black AcesJazzbo’s Carolina SerenadersCharleston Chasers and Napoleon’s Emperors.

The Original Memphis Five broke up in 1928 and Phil began making his living as a studio musician until 1937 when he formed his own orchestra, but it didn’t go anywhere and he soon returned to session and studio work.

In 1946 he got a call from Jimmy Dorsey who was in desperate need of a trumpet player, due to the draft. He joined him in L.A. You can see him in the band in the movie ‘Four Jills And a Jeep”. He stayed with Dorsey until 1947. He the came back to New York and worked as a studio musician at NBC until 1950.

He re-formed the The Original Memphis Five and played at Nick’s in New York City for the next six years. In 1956 Phil moved to Miami, Florida and opened his own club called Napoleon’s Retreat where he continued to lead a band. Phil Napoleon died on September 13th, 1990, at his home in North Miami. He was 89 years of age.

Napoleon’s influence was best felt in Jazz in the early 1920s when The Original Memphis Five were a progressive force that moved the music beyond the style of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and towards the more sophisticated White Jazz that Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols would build upon throughout the rest of the decade.

band or session leader

The Original Memphis Five Phil Napoleon and his Orchestra
Napoleon’s Emperors The Southland Six
Bailey’s Lucky Seven Ladd’s Black Aces
Jazzbo’s Carolina Serenaders Charleston Chasers was a pioneering website during the "Information wants to be Free" era of the 1990s. In that spirit we are recovering the lost data from the now defunct site and sharing it with you.
Most of the music in the archive is in the form of MP3s hosted on or the French servers of where this music is all in the public domain.
Files unavailable from those sources we host ourselves. They were made from original 78 RPM records in the hands of private collectors in the 1990s who contributed to the original They were hosted as .ra files originally and we have converted them into the more modern MP3 format. They are of inferior quality to what is available commercially and are intended for reference purposes only. In some cases a Real Audio (.ra) file from will download. Don't be scared! Those files will play in many music programs, but not Windows Media Player.

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