Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvanis, he became a professional musician at 15, working in the mid-1940s for Jerry Wald, Jimmy Dorsey, Georgie Auld, Elliott Lawrence, Benny Goodman, and Les Brown. He was inspired by hearing Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to change his style to bebop, moving on to play with Claude Thornhill, Gene Krupa, and Woody Herman. In 1949 he accepted an invitation from Charlie Parker to join his quintet. As the only white member of the group he was billed as Albino Red when playing in the racially segregated southern United States. In 1950 he joined the Charlie Ventura band. He also recorded extensively.
In 1958 he left jazz because of diminishing opportunities, lack of acceptance as a white bebop trumpeter, and problems with the police about his drug addiction. He continued to work in other musical fields. Although he continued to be paid well, he supported his drug habit through theft and fraud, eventually spending 27 months in prison. In the early 1970s he was bankrupted by medical costs following a stroke and returned to jazz. He also managed to give up drugs during the 1970s, although in 1975 he was incarcerated in Kentucky for drug offenses. While jailed he gave music lessons to guitarist Wayne Kramer of the MC 5.
From 1980 to 1982, Rodney made five highly regarded albums with multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. In these albums he started to play post-bop jazz. He continued to work and record into the 1990s. Most notably, he performed with The Rolling Stones' drummer Charlie Watts who created a tribute to Parker. Rodney provided an early showcase for saxophonist Chris Potter, who was a regular member of his working group and only 19 years old when Rodney recorded "Red Alert" in late 1990.
Rodney's son, (Mark Rodney), was in the acoustic duo, Batdorf and Rodney, and is an accomplished guitarist.
- Fresh Air from WHYY, December 30, 2002
- Morton, Richard & Cook, Brian: The Penguin Guide To Jazz, New Edition, London, Penguin, 1994
- Morton, Richard & Cook, Brian: The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD, sixth Edition, London, Penguin, 2002, ISBN 9-14-051521-6
- New York Times, <http://www.nytimes.com/1991/06/06/arts/pop-in-review-376991.html>.
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Red Rodney. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|