Tadd Dameron, born in Cleveland, was a notable arranger and bandleader during the modern jazz era of the 1940s and 1950s. As a bandleader, he discovered trumpeters Fats Navarro and Clifford Brown, and composed many jazz standards. His arranging style influenced many jazz musicians including hard boppers and the futuristic Sun Ra.
Dameron was born Tadley Ewing Peake in Cleveland February 17, 1917 and attended Central High School. He took the name Dameron after his stepfather. He played piano and began working with Freddie Webster, Zack Whyte, and Blanche Calloway. He joined Harlan Leonard's Rockets in 1939 and wrote a number of arrangements for that band and for Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, and Georgie Auld. He recorded for the first time with Babs Gonzales in 1946 and worked with Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. He led his own band at the Royal Roost in NYC in 1948 with Fats Navarro on trumpet; his "Soulphony" was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1948 by Dizzy Gillespie's Orchestra. Dameron led a band in 1949 with Miles Davis and played in Paris, France with Miles and James Moody.
In the early fifties he played with fellow Clevelander Bull Moose Jackson and returned to Cleveland playing in local clubs like the Loop Lounge. In 1953 his group recorded for Prestige with Clifford Brown and Benny Golson. Unfortunately, at this time, he became inactive due to drug problems and was imprisoned in 1958. In the early sixties he made an album for Riverside and arranged for recordings by Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson, and Blue Mitchell. He died of cancer in 1965.
Among his compositions which he recorded for Blue Note or Prestige are "Lady Bird," "Our Delight," "Dameronia," "The Tadd Walk," "Symphonette," "Sid's Delight," and "Fontainebleau." Many of these have become jazz standards. His compositions recorded by others include "Dameron Stomp" (Victor, 1940) by Harlan Leonard & His Rockets, "Hot House" (Guild, 1945) and "Good Bait" (Victor, 1947) by Dizzy Gillespie, "If You Could See Me Now" (Musicraft, 1946) by Sarah Vaughan, "Half Step Down, Please" (Victor, 1947) by Coleman Hawkins, and "Lyonia" (Decca, 1949) by the British Ted Heath Band.
Dameron is the subject of a weekly radio program on WRUW-FM 91.1.
Timeless Fats Navarro. Savoy Jazz: 17164, 1946-47, c2003.
The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings of Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron. Blue Note: 33373, 2CD set, 1947-49, c1995.
Clifford Brown Memorial. Prestige: OJCCD-017-2, 1953, c1987.
Mating Call. Prestige: PRCD-3-163, 1956, c2007. [With John Coltrane]
Fontainebleau. Prestige: OJCCD-055-2, 1956, c1987.
Gitler, Ira. The Masters of Bebop: a Listener's Guide. Da Capo, 2001. [ML395 .G58 2001]
MacDonald, Ian. Tadd: the Life and Legacy of Tadley Ewing Dameron. Jahbero, 1998. [ML410.D17 M3 1998]
Grove Music Online: available to CPL cardholders (home access available)