Tadd Dameron

February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965

Instrument piano
Birthplace Cleveland, OH

A giant of the bebop era, Dameron had a wonderful melodic and harmonic imagination which he brought to compositions and arrangements for both small and big bands. Writing first for Harlan Leonard, Jimmy Lunceford, Count Basie and Billy Eckstine, in the late '40s Dameron started composing and arranging for Dizzy Gillespie's big band. He also recorded his own superb sextet for Blue Note Records in 1947 which featured trumpet great Fats Navarro.

He was completely at home writing for any size groups, as you can see from his own quintet, sextet, septet, octet and larger ensemble groups. His nonet, recorded in 1953, included jazzleadsheets.com composers Clifford Brown and Idrees Sulieman on trumpet, saxophonist Gigi Gryce, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. Philly Joe was such a champion of Dameron's that he formed a tribute band, "Dameronia," in the 1980s, with Cecil Payne on baritone sax (he had missed the "A Study In Dameronia" session but played with Tadd on other gigs and recordings). Kenny Dorham, Melba Liston, Curtis Fuller, Julian Priester, Johnny Griffin, Jerry Dodgion, George Duvivier and other Second Floor Music composers also played on recordings with Dameron.

Tadd obviously tried to record as many of his own projects as possible, but he was also in great demand to write arrangements for other important artist projects. In recognition of his popularity with music fans, Dameron was recently added to ASCAP's Wall of Fame.

Musician and educator Paul Combs has written a biography of Dameron, "Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron."