Ed Polcer (born February 10, 1937 in Paterson, New Jersey) is an American classic jazz cornetist, band leader, festival director, club owner/manager and mentor of young musicians. He has been described as a "melodic mellow-toned cornetist with an unforced delivery". Ed started leading jazz bands while attending Princeton University. While at Princeton studying engineering, Ed was headed toward a promising career as a professional baseball player. During that time, he was asked to play at the Monaco wedding of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, as well as a concert in Carnegie Hall, so Ed made the decision to follow the music instead of a baseball career.
When cornetist Bobby Hackett recommended Ed to Benny Goodman, Ed abandoned his engineering and purchasing day jobs and joined Goodman's small band. Other musicians in that band included John Bunch, Bucky Pizzarelli, Slam Stewart, Al Klink, Zoot Sims, George Masso, and Peter Appleyard.
Along with his wife, singer/actress Judy Kurtz, Ed managed and co-owned (with Red Balaban) Eddie Condon's Jazz Club in New York City from 1977 through 1985. Sharing the bandstand with Ed at the club were such musicians as Vic Dickenson, Herb Hall and Connie Kay. Ed was instrumental in giving several younger musicians, such as Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Dan Barrett, and Mark Shane a showcase of their talents at Eddie Condon's. After the wrecking ball demolished the club, Ed toured the country with his shows "A Night at Eddie Condon's", "The Magic of Swing Street", and "When Broadway Meets Swing Street". He served as musical director of several jazz festivals, including the North Carolina Jazz Festival, Colorado Springs Jazz Party, and San Diego Jazz Party.
In the 1980s he served as president of the New York International Art of Jazz organization, which promoted community and corporate involvement in jazz education. Ed played for five U.S. Presidents, including the 1994 Congressional Ball at the White House for President Clinton, and played in Thailand with the King of Thailand, a jazz clarinetist and enthusiast.
Ed's father and uncle were part-time musicians. His first instrument was the xylophone, which he played in local church shows and talent contests starting at the age of five, along with his younger sister Betty. He was encouraged to learn a second instrument, the trumpet, at the age of nine. His first marriage to Barbara Fimbel ended in divorce. He and Barbara had one daughter, Karen, and they adopted a Vietnamese war orphan, James. In 1976, Ed married Judy Kurtz, and they have two sons - Sam, born 1977, and Ben, born 1978.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
- 2002 - New Jersey Jazz Society
- 2009 - San Diego Jazz Party, "Jazz Legend"
- 2012 - Atlanta Jazz Preservation Society - "For unyielding commitment to the preservation of our beloved American art form of jazz".
- In the Condon Tradition (Jazzology, 1982)
- "A Night At Eddie Condon's, Ed Polcer All-Stars" (Jazzology, 1992)
- The Magic of Swing Street (Blewz Manor, 1993)
- A Salute to Eddie Condon (Nagel-Heyer, 1993)
- Coast to Coast Swingin' Jazz (Jazzology, 1994)
- Some Sunny Day (Jazzology, 1994)
- Jammin' à la Condon (Jazzology, 1995)
- "Live At New Orleans Jazz Ascona - Ed Polcer All-Stars, (Lino Patruno Jazz, 2000)
- Let's Hit It , Ed Polcer and his Jazz All-Stars (Blewz Manor, 2003)
- "Let's Hit It Again", Ed Polcer and his Jazz All-Stars, (Blewz Manor, 2004)
- "Everything We've Got", Ed Polcer and Judy Kurtz, (Blewz Manor, 2004)
- At the Ball (Jazzology, 2005)
- "Lionel, Red and Bunny", Ed Polcer and His Swingtet, (Blewz Manor, 2006)
- "When Broadway Meets Swing Street", Judy Kurtz and Ed Polcer, (Blewz Manor, 2007)
- "A Night at the New Eddie Condon's " (Classic Jazz, 1975)
- "Russell 'Big Chief' Moore's PowWow Jazz Band" (Jazz Art Workshop)
- "Leon Redbone - Double Time" (Warner Bros. Records Inc., 1977)
- "Banu Gibson on Tour" (Jazzology, 1988)
- "Leon Redbone, From Branch to Branch" (Emerald City Records, 1981)
- "Whose Honey Are You?", Terry Blaine (Juke Box Jazz, 1992)
- "Barbara Lea and the Ed Polcer All-Stars" (Jazzology, 1993)
- "Terry Blaine in Concert", Mark Shane Quintet (Juke Box Jazz, 1994)
- "On Treasure Island", Mark Shane (Juke Box Jazz, 1996)
- "With Thee I Swing", Terry Blaine with Mark Shane (Nagel-Heyer, 1997)
- "Too Hot For Words", Terry Blaine (Juke Box Jazz, 1999)
- "Ballads, Burners and Blues", Allan Vache and Friends (Arbors 2004)
- "A Multitude of Stars", Statesmen of Jazz (Arbors 2004)
- "The Sheik of Araby", Jonathan Russell (Balding Lion Productions 2006)
- "Puttin' On The Ritz", Jonathan Russell (Balding Lion Productions 2007)
- "Atlanta Jazz Party Favorites" (Jazzology, 2009)
- "Quintessential Jazz, Live in the Desert", Ed Polcer's All-Stars, (Arizona Classic Jazz Society, 2008)
- "Baby Soda Live at Radegast" (Baby Soda Records 2011)
- "Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler, "The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies", Horizon Press, NY, 1971, p.275
- Mark Miller, "Herbie Nichols, A Jazzists's Life", The Mercury Press, 2009, pgs. 132-134
- Colin Larkin editor, "The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz", Guiness Publishing, 1992, p. 323
- Lew Shaw, "Jazz Beat - Notes on Classic Jazz", AZ told Publishing Co., Scottsdale AZ, 2013, pgs. 5, 6, 129-132.
- Scott Yanow, Ed Polcer at Allmusic
- Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler, Encyclopedia of Jazz in the '70s, Horizon Press NY, pg. 275
- Colin Larkin editor, Guinness Who's Who of Jazz, Guinness Publishing, 1992, pg. 323
- Lew Shaw, Jazz Beat - Notes on Classic Jazz, AZ told Publishing Co., Scottsdale AZ, 2013, pgs. 5, 6, 129-132
- Barry Kernfeld editor, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, St. Martin's Press NY, 1995, p. 990
- K. Abe', "Jazz Giants", p. 273
- Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler, The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, Oxford University Press, 1999, pg. 533
- Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley, Jazz, The Essential Companion, Grafton Books, London, 1987, pg. 395
- Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley, Jazz, The Rough Guide, Penguin Books, London, pg. 511
- Mark Miller, Herbie Nichols, A Jazzist's Life, The Mercury Press, 2009, pgs. 132-134
- Chip Deffaa, Traditionalists and Revivalists In Jazz, Scarecrow Press, Newark NJ, 1993
- Scott Yanow, The Trumpet Kings - The Players Who Shaped The Sound of Jazz Trumpet, 2001, pg. 298