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(album image courtesy of Fantasy Records)
Tadley Ewing Dameron
( Tadley Ewing Peake)
born: 21 February 1917 - Cleveland, Ohio
died: 8 March 1965 - New York City, NY
Tadd Dameron was born Tadley Ewing Peake, the son of Isaiah and Ruth Peake. When his mother later married Adolphus Dameron, Tadd and his brother, Caesar, legally changed their names to Dameron. Caesar was a jazz pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer who worked in Chicago and New York City. Inspired to follow a career as a jazz musician by his brother Caesar, a saxophone player. Caesar brought his younger brother along with him to a Cleveland night club and asked if Tadd could sit in. Although the band members had known he had been studying piano, he played things many of the older professionals were not used to hearing. When he was 21, Tadd tried arranging for a big band, one formed in Cleveland by James Jeter and Hayes Pillars. He said it was "'I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart' and everything was wrong with it. He went on to play with Freddie Webster, Zack Whyte, and Blanche Calloway in the late 1930s. Originally, he spelled his name "Tad" until a numerologist told him that the addition of a second "d" would bring him luck.
During World War II he was a factory worker. He arranged for Vido Musso and Harlan Leonard, making his debut as a pianist with Babs Gonzales' Three Bips & A Bop. He wrote arrangements for Georgie Auld, Jimmie Lunceford and Sarah Vaughan. He composed Soulphony for Dizzie Gillepsie's Carnegie Hall Concert in 1948. He led his own trio at the Royal Roost in New York City with Allen Eager and Fatz Navarro. In 1949, he appeared as co-leader with Miles Davis at the Paris Jazz Festival. He arranged for Ted Heath in Great Britain. He was with Bull Moose Jackson in the United States (1951-1952) then led his own band (1953-1958).
His career was plagued by his addiction to narcotics. He was arrested for possession of narcotics and sentenced to the Federal Prison at Lexington, Kentucky (1958-1960). In the early 1960s' he arranged for Milt Jackson, Benny Goodman, "Blue" Mitchell and Sonny Stitt.
According to biographer Ian MacDonald, Tadd had no children although one story reported that he had three. Another story claimed that he had been a pre-med student at Oberlin College. Tadd had told people he had gone to North Africa in the late 1940's but MacDonald found that he had never left the United States at that point. He suffered from cancer and had several heart attacks before he died at the age of 48 of cancer in 1965. Adolphus died 14 September 1939 in Cleveland. Ruth appeared in the 1940 directory as "Wid Adolphus." She appeared in the city directory until 1960. She eventually worked with and lived with Caesar. She died in 1970. Caesar lived in Cleveland where he operated a restaurant, Dameron's Hut on Cedar Avenue. At one time he had establishments at two locations. He died in 1977. Isaiah Peake last appeared in the Cleveland city directory in 1929.
Several of his compositions have become jazz standards: The Squirrel, Dameronia, Tadd Walk, Lady Bird, Jahbero, Symponette, The Chase, The Scene is Clean....
All Music Guide to Jazz. San Francisco, Miller Freeman Books, 1998
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. New York, Schirmer Books, 1992
Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz. New York, Harmony Books, 1987.|
Claghorn, Charles Eugne. Biographical Dictionary of Jazz. Englecliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1992.
Clarke, Donald, editor. Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. London, Penguin Group, 1989.
Sadie, Stanley, editor. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London, MacMillan Publishers, 1980.
The Cleveland City Directory, various editions
The following two web sites were also major sources of information:
Jazzed in Cleveland: a jazz history by Joe Mosbrook, part forty-four, about Tadd Dameron
"In Search of Tad(d) Dameron" by Ian MacDonald on the Jazz Institute of Chicago web site
Other web sites of interest:
Fantasy Records' list of recordings available by Tadd Dameron
MusicMoz open music project: Links to sites about Tadd Dameron
MusicWeb Encyclopaedia: Tadd Dameron
the iceberg.com: Tadd Dameron
More Information may be found by searching www.getmusic.com
Rolling Stone Discography: Tadd Dameron
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Charles C. Chaney
Last updated 26 May 2011