|Born||April 6, 1922|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 19, 1998 (aged 76)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, blues, classical, boogie-woogie|
|Instrument(s)||Piano, vibraphone, vocals|
Dorothy Donegan (April 6, 1922 – May 19, 1998) was a classically trained American jazz pianist and occasional vocalist, primarily known for performing stride and boogie-woogie, as well as bebop, swing, and classical.
Early life, family and education
Donegan was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and began studying piano in 1928. She took her first lessons from Alfred N. Simms, a West Indian pianist who also taught Cleo Brown.
She graduated from Chicago's DuSable High School, where she studied with Walter Dyett, a teacher who also worked with Dinah Washington, Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons, and Von Freeman. She also studied at the Chicago Musical College and the University of Southern California.
She was known for her work in Chicago nightclubs. In 1942 she made her recording debut.
She appeared in Sensations of 1945 with Cab Calloway, Gene Rodgers, and W. C. Fields. She was a protege of Art Tatum, who called her "the only woman who can make me practice". She said that Tatum "was supposed to be blind...I know he could see women.") In 1943, Donegan became the first African American to perform at Chicago's Orchestra Hall. She later said of this pathbreaking performance:
In the first half I played Rachmaninoff and Grieg and in the second I drug it through the swamp – played jazz. Claudia Cassidy reviewed the concert on the first page of the Chicago Tribune. She said I had a terrific technique and I looked like a Toulouse-Lautrec lithograph.
In May 1983, Donegan, along with Billy Taylor, Milt Hinton, Art Blakey, Maxine Sullivan, Jaki Byard, and Eddie Locke, performed at a memorial service for Earl Hines, held at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in New York City.
Her first six albums proved to be obscure compared to her successes in performance. It was not until the 1980s that her work gained notice in the jazz world. In particular, a recorded appearance at the 1987 Montreux Jazz Festival and her live albums from 1991 were met with acclaim. Even so, she remained best known for her live performances. She drew crowds with her eclectic mixture of styles and her flamboyant personality. Ben Ratliff argued in The New York Times that "her flamboyance helped her find work in a field that was largely hostile to women. To a certain extent, it was also her downfall; her concerts were often criticized for having an excess of personality."
Donegan was outspoken about her view that sexism, along with her insistence on being paid the same rates as male musicians, had limited her career. In 1992, Donegan received an "American Jazz Master" fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1994, an honorary doctorate from Roosevelt University.
Personal life and demise
Donegan died of cancer in 1998, aged 76, in Los Angeles, California.
|1954?||Dorothy Donegan Piano||MGM|
|1957?||Dorothy Donegan at the Embers||Roulette|
|1959||Dorothy Donegan Live!||Capitol||Album liner notes claim this trio recording was made at "The Embers on Manhattan's elegant East Side."|
|1959?||Donnybrook with Dorothy||Capitol|
|1961||It Happened One Night||Roulette|
|1963?||Swingin' Jazz in Hi Fi||Regina|
|1975||The Many Faces of Dorothy Donegan||Mahogany||Trio, with Arvell Shaw (bass), Panama Francis (drums); reissued by Storyville with trio tracks from 1961|
|1975||Dorothy Donegan||Four Leaf Clover (Sweden)||Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Lars Beijbom (drums); some tracks add Jan Allan (trumpet) - recorded live at "The Best of Harlem" in Stockholm, Sweden; expanded CD re-issue released in 1994 adds 3 tracks|
|1978||Live at the King of France Tavern||LiSem||released 2015|
|1979?||Makin' Whoopie||Black & Blue|
|1980||Live in Copenhagen 1980||Storyville||Trio, with Mads Vinding (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums); in concert|
|1981||The Explosive Dorothy Donegan||Progressive||Trio, with Jerome Hunter (bass), Ray Mosca (drums)|
|1986||Live at the Widder Bar||Timeless|
|1990||Live at the 1990 Floating Jazz Festival||Chiaroscuro||Trio, with Jon Burr (bass), Ray Mosca (drums); in concert|
|1991||The Incredible Dorothy Donegan Trio||Chiaroscuro||Most tracks trio, with Jon Burr (bass), Ray Mosca (drums); some tracks quartet, with Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet) added; in concert|
|1992||Dorothy Donegan Trio with Clark Terry||Chiaroscuro||Most tracks trio, with Jon Burr (bass), Ray Mosca (drums); some tracks quartet, with Clark Terry (trumpet) added; in concert|
|1995?||I Just Want To Sing||Audiophile|
- 1944: Sensations of 1945 – musical performer, United Artists
- 1980: North Sea Jazz Classics 1980 – live performance registration by NOS/NPO
- 1995: Jazz at Newport '95 – featured performer, concert for PBS
- 2008: Dorothy Donegan: Pandemonium
- ^ a b c d Ratliff, Ben (May 22, 1998). "Dorothy Donegan, 76, Flamboyant Jazz Pianist". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- ^ a b Travis, Dempsey J. (1983). An Autobiography of Black Jazz (1st ed.). Chicago: Urban Research Institute. ISBN 0-941484-03-3.
- ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Dorothy Donegan". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- ^ a b c d Scheinman, Ted (January–February 2021). "Fascinating Women". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. p. 20.
- ^ a b c Balliett, Whitney (February 15, 2006). "Dorothy Donegan". American Musicians II: Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 232–238. ISBN 978-1-57806-834-0. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- ^ a b c "Dorothy Donegan, Famed Jazz Pianist, Dies". Jet. June 8, 1998. pp. 38–39. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved September 14, 2011 – via Google Books.
- ^ a b Waldron, Clarence (December 1983). "Dorothy Donegan: Bouncy as ever at age 61". Ebony. pp. 87–90. ISSN 0012-9011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- ^ "Earl Hines Memorial Service". The New York Times. 5 May 1983. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
- ^ "Dorothy Donegan | Pianist, Vocalist, Educator". NEA Jazz Masters. National Endownment for the Arts. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
- Doerschuk, Bob (November 1, 2001). 88: the giants of jazz piano. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 54–57. ISBN 978-0-87930-656-4. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Dorothy Donegan at IMDb
- Obituary at JazzHouse.org
- 1922 births
- 1998 deaths
- African-American jazz pianists
- African-American pianists
- American women jazz musicians
- Women jazz pianists
- American jazz pianists
- Boogie-woogie pianists
- Stride pianists
- Jazz musicians from Illinois
- Jazz musicians from California
- Musicians from Chicago
- Deaths from cancer in California
- 20th-century American women pianists
- 20th-century American pianists
- Storyville Records artists
- Black & Blue Records artists
- Chiaroscuro Records artists
- African-American women musicians
- University of Southern California alumni
- 20th-century African-American women
- 20th-century African-American musicians