Tadd Dameron Day

February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965

 

A tribute to the influential bop composer and arranger

Composer, arranger and pianist Tadley Ewing Peake “Tadd” Dameron was born on February 21, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dameron worked early on as a pianist with Zack Whyte and Blanche Calloway, contributing arrangements for Harlan Leonard’s Kansas City Orchestra, some of which were recorded in 1940.

A decent pianist, Dameron’s greatest contribution to jazz was as a composer and arranger, one of the finest to mature during the bop era.

He wrote charts for Sarah Vaughan and the big bands of Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, Georgie Auld, and Dizzy Gillespie, composing such standards as “Hot House,” “Good Bait,” “Lady Bird,” Cool Breeze” and “If You Could See Me Now.”

Dameron worked with Babs Gonzales’ Three Bips and A Bop in 1947, led a sextet at the Royal Roost during 1948-49 that at times featured Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Kai Winding and Allan Eager, and performed at the 1949 Paris Jazz Festival, heading a quintet also including Miles Davis and James Moody.

Back in the U.S. in the 1950s, Dameron wrote for Artie Shaw’s bop big band, toured with Bull Moose Jackson’s r&b group, and in 1953 had a nonet that featured Clifford Brown; he also recorded a few albums including Mating with John Coltrane in 1958.

Dameron had drug problems that put him out of action but he wrote for sessions led by Blue Mitchel, Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson and Benny Goodman in the early 1960s before he passed away from cancer when he was just 48.

No films exist of Tadd Dameron so here is a radio broadcast from the Royal Roost in 1948 with the great trumpeter Fats Navarro.

-Scott Yanow