Leo Parker

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Leo Parker
Background information
BornApril 18, 1925
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 1962 (aged 36)
New York City, New York, U.S.
InstrumentsBaritone saxophone

Leo Parker (April 18, 1925 – February 11, 1962)[1] was an American jazz musician, who primarily played baritone saxophone.

Early life[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C.,[1] Parker studied alto saxophone in high school and played this instrument on a recording with Coleman Hawkins in 1944.[1]


Parker switched to baritone saxophone in 1944 when he joined Billy Eckstine's bebop band, playing there until 1946.[1] In 1945, he was a member of the "Unholy Four" of saxophonists, with Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons.[1] He played on 52nd Street in New York with Dizzy Gillespie in 1946 and Illinois Jacquet in 1947-48,[1] and later recorded with Fats Navarro, J.J. Johnson, Teddy Edwards, Wardell Gray and Charles Thompson.[1] He and Thompson had a hit with their Apollo Records release, "Mad Lad".[1]

Personal life[edit]

In the 1950s, Parker had problems with drug abuse, which interfered with his recording career.[1] He made two comeback records for Blue Note in 1961, but the following year he died of a heart attack in New York City.[1] He was 36.


With Coleman Hawkins

  • Rainbow Mist (Delmark, 1944 [1992]) compilation of Apollo recordings

With Illinois Jacquet

  • The Kid and the Brute (Clef, 1955)
  • Illinois Jacquet / Leo Parker -- Toronto 1947 (Uptown Records 2013)
  • Jumpin' at Apollo (Delmark, 2002)

With Dexter Gordon


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1908. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
General references