Claude Hopkins – Musical director for Josephine Baker

Claude Hopkins was a jazz pianist who led one of the most popular big bands to come out of Harlem.

He went to Europe as musical director for the singer Josephine Baker, leading a band that included Sidney Bechet, the saxophonist and clarinetist.

He led the orchestra on the opening night of the Revue Negre in Paris.

The show was crowded, Parisians were keen to experience this new form of performance, and the gossip in social circles promised a great show, the fashionable and rich turned up in droves to see the show.The show cause shock, scandal and delight by equal measure, a sure fire recipe for success in the jazz age in Europe.

Just one image exists of Claude and Josephine onstage together.


Claude later returned to the United States where he took over a band in 1930 led by Charlie Skeets at the Coconut Grove in Harlem. For the next six years, while playing at the Savoy Ballroom, Roseland and the Cotton Club, it became one of the country’s top black bands.

His band included the clarinetist Edmond Hall, the trombonist Vic Dickenson, the trumpeter Jabbo Smith and the singers Orlando Roberson and Ovie Alston.

His band made many records in the 1930’s; the best known was his theme, ”I Would Do Anything for You,”

In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, he continued to lead small groups and he also played piano in groups led by the trumpeter Red Allen at the Metropole and by the trumpeter Roy Eldridge at Jimmy Ryan’s.

Book your stay in the Jazz room at Riad Star, and immerse yourself in the  Jazz age style of the Icons of the age.