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Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron (February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965) was an American jazz composer, arranger, and pianist. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon called him the "romanticist" of the bop movement,[1] while reviewer Scott Yanow wrote that Dameron was the "definitive arranger/composer of the bop era".[2]

Tadd Dameron
Portrait of Tadd Dameron, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (Gottlieb).jpg
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)
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger



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

Born in Cleveland, Ohio,[3] Dameron was the most influential arranger of the bebop era, but also wrote charts for swing and hard bop players.[4] 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.[5][6][7] According to the composer, his greatest influences were George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.[8]

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.[9]

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)[8] 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.[10]


Dameron has been the subject of many tributes since his death:


As leader/co-leaderEdit

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1948? The Dameron Band (Featuring Fats Navarro) Blue Note
1949? Anthropology Spotlite
1949? Cool Boppin'
1949? The Miles Davis and Dameron Quartet in Paris – Festival International du Jazz, May 1949 Columbia
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 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 Mating Call Prestige Quartet, with John Coltrane (tenor sax), John Simmons (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)
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

As arranger or conductorEdit

For Blue Mitchell

For Milt Jackson

For Sonny Stitt


  1. ^ Nisenson, Eric (1996). 'Round About Midnight: A Portrait of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-306-80684-3.
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott (2008), "Tadd Dameron biography", AllMusic.
  3. ^ "Tadd Dameron | American musician and composer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  4. ^ Hound, Music (1998-01-01). Jazz: The Essential Album Guide. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN 9780825672538.
  5. ^ "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (If You Could See Me Now)". Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  6. ^ Gioia, Ted (2011-05-09). The History of Jazz. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199831876.
  7. ^ "Sarah Vaughan | About Sarah Vaughan | American Masters | PBS". American Masters. 2005-10-08. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  8. ^ a b Rosenthal, David, H. Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505869-0.
  9. ^ Harrison, Max. "Dameron, Tadd." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. April 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "Funeral Rites for Jazz Arranger Feature His Own Compositions". The Arizona Republic. March 12, 1965. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby and Priestley, Brian, Rough Guide to Jazz, Rough Guides, 2004. ISBN 1-84353-256-5, ISBN 978-1-84353-256-9.

Further readingEdit

  • Combs, Paul. (2012). Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron (Jazz Perspectives). University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0472114139.

External linksEdit