Tadd Dameron

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Tadd Dameron
Tadd Dameron, New York, between 1946 and 1948
Tadd Dameron, New York, between 1946 and 1948
Background information
Birth nameTadley Ewing Peake Dameron
Born(1917-02-21)February 21, 1917
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedMarch 8, 1965(1965-03-08) (aged 48)
New York City
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
Years active1940s–1960s

Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron (February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965) was an American jazz composer, arranger, and pianist.


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

Born in Cleveland, Ohio,[1] Dameron was the most influential arranger of the bebop era, but also wrote charts for swing and hard bop players.[2] The bands he arranged for included those of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughan. In 1940-41 he was the piano player and arranger for the Kansas City band Harlan Leonard and his Rockets. He and lyricist Carl Sigman wrote "If You Could See Me Now" for Sarah Vaughan and it became one of her first signature songs.[3][4][5] According to the composer, his greatest influences were George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.[6]

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.[7]

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)[6] and "Lady Bird". Dameron's bands from the late 1940s and early 1950s featured leading players such as Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Wardell Gray, and Clifford Brown. In 1956 he led two sessions based on his compositions, released as the 1956 album "Fontainebleau" and the 1957 album "Mating Call". The latter featured John Coltrane. 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.[8]



As leader/co-leader[edit]

Recorded Released Title Label Notes
1948? The Dameron Band (Featuring Fats Navarro) Blue Note
1949? 1972 Anthropology Spotlite
1949? Cool Boppin'
1949 1977 The Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet In Paris Festival International De Jazz May, 1949 Columbia With Miles Davis (trumpet), James Moody (tenor saxophone), Barney Spieler (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums)
1953 1953 A Study in Dameronia Prestige With Clifford Brown (trumpet), Benny Golson (tenor sax), Idrees Sulieman (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax), Herb Mullins (trombone), Oscar Estell (baritone sax), Percy Heath (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums); most tracks also issued on Memorial
1956 1956 Fontainebleau Prestige With Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Henry Coker (trombone), Cecil Payne (baritone sax), Sahib Shihab (alto sax), Joe Alexander tenor sax), John Simmons (bass), Shadow Wilson (drums)
1956 1957 Mating Call Prestige Quartet, with John Coltrane (tenor sax), John Simmons (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)
1962 1962 The Magic Touch Riverside With Clark Terry, Ernie Royal Charlie Shavers and Joe Wilder (trumpet), Jimmy Cleveland and Britt Woodman (trombone), Julius Watkins (French horn), Jerry Dodgion and Leo Wright (alto sax, flute), Jerome Richardson (tenor sax, flute), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Tate Houston (baritone sax), Bill Evans (piano), Ron Carter and George Duvivier (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums); Barbara Winfield (vocals) added on two tracks
1962 The Tadd Dameron Band Jazzland

As sideman[edit]

With John Coltrane

  • John Coltrane Plays for Lovers (Prestige, 1966)
  • Trane's Blues (Giants of Jazz, 1990)

With Miles Davis

  • At Birdland (Durium, 1976)
  • The Early Days Vol. 1 (Giants of Jazz, 1985)
  • Birdland Days (Fresh Sound, 1990)

With Dexter Gordon

  • New Trends of Jazz Volume 3 (Savoy, 1952)
  • Long Tall Dexter (Savoy, 1976)
  • Dexter Rides Again (Savoy, 1985)

With Fats Navarro

  • Memorial Album (Blue Note, 1951)
  • New Trends of Jazz Vol. 5 (Savoy, 1952)
  • Fats-Bud-Klook-Sonny-Kinney (Savoy, 1955)
  • Fats Navarro Memorial Theodore "Fats" Navarro 1923–1950 Volume I (London, 1956)
  • The Fabulous Fats Navarro Volume 1 (Blue Note, 1957)
  • The Fabulous Fats Navarro Volume 2 (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Fats Navarro Featured with the Tadd Dameron Quintet (Jazzland, 1961)
  • Fats Navarro Memorial Volume 1 (CBS, 1964)
  • Prime Source (Blue Note, 1975)
  • Fat Girl (Savoy, 1977)
  • Featured with the Tadd Dameron Band (Milestone, 1977)
  • At Royal Roost Volume 1 (Jazz View, 1991)
  • Fats Blows 1946–1949 (Giants of Jazz, 1991)
  • Royal Roost Sessions 1948 (Fresh Sound, 1991)

With Charlie Parker

  • Bird Lives (Continental, 1962)
  • Pensive Bird (Ember, 1969)
  • Broadcast Performances Vol. 2 (ESP Disk, 1973)


  1. ^ "Tadd Dameron | American musician and composer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  2. ^ Hound, Music (1998-01-01). Jazz: The Essential Album Guide. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN 9780825672538.
  3. ^ "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (If You Could See Me Now)". www.jazzstandards.com. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  4. ^ Gioia, Ted (2011-05-09). The History of Jazz. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199831876.
  5. ^ "Sarah Vaughan | About Sarah Vaughan | American Masters | PBS". American Masters. 2005-10-08. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  6. ^ a b Rosenthal, David, H. (1992). Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505869-0.
  7. ^ Harrison, Max. "Dameron, Tadd." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. April 2, 2011.
  8. ^ "Funeral Rites for Jazz Arranger Feature His Own Compositions". newspapers.com. The Arizona Republic. March 12, 1965. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-1-84353-256-9. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  10. ^ Nisenson, Eric (1996). 'Round About Midnight: A Portrait of Miles Davis. archive.org. ISBN 9780306806841. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  11. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Tadd Dameron". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  12. ^ Wolff, Carlo. "Joe Lovano: 52nd Street Themes". AllMusic. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  13. ^ Bowers, Jack (May 14, 2006). "Peter Welker: Duke, Billy And Tadd". All About Jazz. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  14. ^ "Ferit Odman: Dameronia with Strings". AllMusic. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  15. ^ Sinnenberg, Jackson (March 2019). "Joe Magnarelli Quintet: If You Could See Me Now". DownBeat. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  16. ^ McDowall, Kerilie (April 2019). "The Dream Is You: Vanessa Rubin Sings Tadd Dameron". DownBeat. Retrieved January 3, 2022.

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]

Interview with Paul Combs, Author of DAMERONIA: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF TADD DAMERON