Joe Albany

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Joe Albany
Birth nameJoseph Albani
Born(1924-01-24)January 24, 1924
Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJanuary 12, 1988(1988-01-12) (aged 63)
New York City
Associated acts

Joe Albany (born Joseph Albani; January 24, 1924 – January 12, 1988) was an American modern jazz pianist who played bebop with Charlie Parker as well as being a leader on his own recordings.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Albany studied piano as a child and, by 1943, was working on the West Coast in Benny Carter's orchestra.[3] In 1946 he at least once played with Parker and then 20-year-old Miles Davis.[4] He continued for a few years afterward, and in 1957 recorded an album for Riverside with an unusual trio line-up with saxophonist Warne Marsh and Bob Whitlock on bass, omitting a drummer. Despite that, most of the 1950s and 1960s saw him battling a heroin addiction, or living in seclusion in Europe. He also had several unsuccessful marriages in this period. He returned to jazz in the 1970s and played on more than ten albums. He died of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest in New York City at the age of 63.[5]

Albany was the focus of a 1980 documentary titled, Joe Albany... A Jazz Life.[3] His daughter Amy-Jo wrote a memoir about her father called Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood.[6] The book was adapted for the screen and released in 2014 as the biopic Low Down.[7]


Year recorded Title Label Notes
1957 The Right Combination Riverside Trio, with Warne Marsh (tenor sax), Bob Whitlock (bass)
1966 Portrait of a Legend Fresh Sound Trio, with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Frank Capp (drums)
1971 Joe Albany at Home Spotlite Solo piano
1972 Proto-Bopper Revelation Trio, with Bob Whitlock (bass), Nick Martinis and Jerry McKenzie (drums; separately)
1973 Birdtown Birds SteepleChase Trio, with Hugo Rasmussen (bass), Hans Nymand (drums); in concert
1974 Two's Company SteepleChase Duo, with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass); also released by Inner City in 1976
1974 Joe Albany & Joe Venuti Horo Quintet, with Joe Venuti (violin), Joe Cusumano (guitar), Giovanni Tommaso (bass), Bruno Biriaco (drums); also released by Parlophone in 1977
1976 This Is for My Friends Musica
1976 Epiphany Blue Jack Solo piano
1977 Plays George Gershwin & Burton Lane Musica
1977 The Albany Touch Sea Breeze Solo piano
1977 Live in Paris Fresh Sound Trio, with Alby Cullaz (bass), Aldo Romano (drums)
1979 Bird Lives! Interplay Trio, with Art Davis (bass), Roy Haynes (drums)
1982 Portrait of an Artist Elektra/Musician Trio/Quartet, with George Duvivier (bass), Charlie Persip (drums), Al Gafa (guitar)


  1. ^ Barbera, André (2002). "Albany, Joe". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 24–45. ISBN 1561592846.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 6. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  3. ^ a b Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press, p. 9.
  4. ^ A recording from a live set at the Final Club in Los Angeles from May 1946 was released as Yardbird in Lotus Land in 1976 on Spotlight Records in the UK. Cf. Charlie Parker discography on and Yardbird in Lotus Land at Discogs
  5. ^ "Joe Albany, 63, Dies; Master of Jazz Piano". The New York Times. 16 January 1988.
  6. ^ Albany, A. J. (2003). Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1582343334.
  7. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (23 October 2014). "A Daughter's View of Dad, the Jazz Pianist and Addict". The New York Times. p. C8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Russell, Ross (April 1959) "The Legendary Joe Albany". The Jazz Review. pp. 18–19, 40.

External links[edit]