Tadd Dameron

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Tadd Dameron
Portrait of Tadd Dameron, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (Gottlieb).jpg
Tadd Dameron, New York, between 1946 and 1948
Background information
Birth name Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron
Born (1917-02-21)February 21, 1917
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 8, 1965(1965-03-08) (aged 48)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger
Instruments Piano

Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron (February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965) was an American jazz composer, arranger, and pianist. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon called him the "romanticist" of the bop movement,[1] while reviewer Scott Yanow wrote that Dameron was the "definitive arranger/composer of the bop era".[2]


Born in Cleveland, Ohio,[3] Dameron was the most influential arranger of the bebop era, but also wrote charts for swing and hard bop players.[4] The bands he arranged for included those of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughan. He and lyricist Carl Sigman wrote "If You Could See Me Now" for Sarah Vaughan and it became one of her first signature songs.[5][6][7] According to the composer, his greatest influences were George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.[8]

In the late 1940s, Dameron wrote arrangements for Gillespie's big band, who gave the première of his large-scale orchestral piece Soulphony in Three Hearts at Carnegie Hall in 1948. Also in 1948, Dameron led his own group in New York, which included Fats Navarro; the following year Dameron was at the Paris Jazz Festival with Miles Davis. From 1961 he scored for recordings by Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Blue Mitchell.[9]

Dameron also arranged and played for rhythm and blues musician Bull Moose Jackson. Playing for Jackson at that same time was Benny Golson, who was to become a jazz composer in his own right. Golson has said that Dameron was the most important influence on his writing.

Dameron composed several bop and swing standards, including "Hot House", "If You Could See Me Now", "Our Delight", "Good Bait" (composed for Count Basie)[8] and "Lady Bird". Dameron's bands featured leading players such as Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and Wardell Gray.

After forming another group of his own with Clifford Brown in 1953, Dameron developed an addiction to narcotics toward the end of his career, he was arrested on drug charges in 1957 and 1958, and served time (1959–60) in a federal prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. After his release, Dameron recorded a single notable project as a leader, The Magic Touch, but was sidelined by health problems; he had several heart attacks before dying of cancer in 1965, at the age of 48. He was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.[10]


Dameron has been the subject of many tributes since his death:


Tadd Dameron, Mary Lou Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie in Williams's apartment, c. June 1946

As leader or co-leader[edit]

As arranger or conductor[edit]

For Blue Mitchell

For Milt Jackson

For Sonny Stitt


  1. ^ Nisenson, Eric (1996). 'Round About Midnight: A Portrait of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-306-80684-3. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott (2008), "Tadd Dameron biography", AllMusic.
  3. ^ "Tadd Dameron | American musician and composer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  4. ^ Hound, Music (1998-01-01). Jazz: The Essential Album Guide. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN 9780825672538. 
  5. ^ "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (If You Could See Me Now)". www.jazzstandards.com. Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  6. ^ Gioia, Ted (2011-05-09). The History of Jazz. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199831876. 
  7. ^ "Sarah Vaughan | About Sarah Vaughan | American Masters | PBS". American Masters. 2005-10-08. Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  8. ^ a b Rosenthal, David, H. Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505869-0. 
  9. ^ Harrison, Max. "Dameron, Tadd." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. April 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "Funeral Rites for Jazz Arranger Feature His Own Compositions". newspapers.com. The Arizona Republic. March 12, 1965. Retrieved March 2, 2018. 
  11. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby and Priestley, Brian, Rough Guide to Jazz, Rough Guides, 2004. ISBN 1-84353-256-5, ISBN 978-1-84353-256-9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Combs, Paul. (2012). Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron (Jazz Perspectives). University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0472114139.

External links[edit]