The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz


Do you want to know when Duke Ellington was king of The Cotton Club? Have you ever wondered how old Miles Davis was when he got his first trumpet? From birth dates to gig dates and from recordings to television specials, Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler have left no stone unturned in their quest for accurate, detailed information on the careers of 3.300 jazz musicians from around the world. We learn that Duke Ellington worked his magic at The Cotton Club from 1927 to 1931, and that on Miles Davis's thirteenth birthday, his father gave him his first trumpet. Jazz is fast moving, and this edition clearly and concisely maps out an often dizzying web of professional associations. We find, for instance, that when Miles Davis was a St. Louis teenager he encountered Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie for the first time. This meeting proved fateful, and by 1945 a nineteen-year-old Davis had left Juilliard to play with Parker on 52nd Street. Knowledge of these professional alliances, along with the countless others chronicled in this book, are central to tracing the development of significant jazz movements, such as the "cool jazz" that became one of Miles Davis's hallmarks. Arranged alphabetically according to last name, each entry of this book chronologically lists the highlights of every jazz musician's career. Highly accessible and vigorously researched, The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz is, quite simply, the most comprehensive jazz encyclopedia available.


The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz is a new book; as far as has been possible it is a complete volume, neither an update nor a revision of any previous reference work. It includes musicians who were born in the nineteenth century and others who today are still in their twenties.

Because of the vast number of artists entering the field and making a contribution of enough importance to justify their inclusion, the task of producing a work both up to date and all-encompassing was a formidable one. Every attempt has been made to obtain information on any performer whose mpact seems likely to prove durable.

The biographical assignments were distributed for the most part along geographical lines: musicians living on or near the East Coast were dealt with by Ira Gitler and his collaborators, while biographies of those primarily assocated with the West Coast were contributed by me and/or Don Heckman. Musicians in other areas were divided up simply according to which of us gained access to the data.

Deceased artists were allocated alphabetically: those from A to L were written (or rewritten from earlier versions) by Ira and his team; those from M to Z by Don and/or me. Don's role proved invaluable; as we went along, he with his computer and I with my noncomputerized collaboration, it became clear that his role amounted to that of a full-scale associate author/editor.

Others who helped include Gene Lees, former Down beat editor and current editor/publisher of the Jazzletter, and Jude Hibler, editor and publisher in the late 1980s of Jazz Link Magazine, who provide material on many musicians based in and around San Diego. Frankie Nemko, the British-born, California-based writer, and Celia Wood, a valuable associate in London, supplied many of the British biographies.

The immense job of compiling representative compact disc listing in our portion of the book fell to the encyclopedic Scott Yanow.

As is always the case with reference works, helpful information about the earlier years . . .

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