Dameronia – Post Publication Research and News


Following the publication of Dameronia – the Life and Music of Tadd Dameron, various bits of information have surfaced, as I expected, and I would like to share these.


1.     Performances and Talks

2.     “I’d Rather Have A Mem’ry Than A Dream”

3.     A Visit To Tulane re: The Boyd Raeburn Repertoire

4.     Recordings and Articles

5.     Vido Musso Transcriptions

6.     Pancho Hagood 


1. Performances and Talks¨

On Tuesday evening, February 21, 2017, I celebrated Tadd’s 100th birthday with a concert of his music, much of it unknown to general audiences, and indeed never recorded. Joining me were trumpeter Derek Canon, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Alexander Frank, and drummer Charles Ruggiero. The concert was the second of this years Jazz Live broadcasts from radio station KSDS in San Diego. These concerts are performed in front of an audience in San Diego City College’s Saville Theater. It is possible that some of this concert will be released on a CD in the not to distant future.


On Wednesday, April 19, 2017,I was interviewed by Rusty Hassan for UDC-TV and gave a talk on Tadd Dameron and his music at the University of the District of Columbia. The interview is now available at < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1W6FQ-hO-w&feature=youtu.be> The following evening, April 20, as part of the Smithsonian’s Take 5 series of concerts, I performed another concert of Tadd’s music, including tunes discovered at the Smithsonian. On hand with me were vocalist Danielle Wertz, guitarist Steve Herberman, bassist Eliot Seppa, and drummer Ele Rubenstein. In September I will be giving another concert in San Diego with Derek Cannon of rare Dameron music, and we are looking forward to other opportunities to present more of his music.


Others have been working on getting Dameron’s music heard. Professor Kent Engelhardt of Youngstown State University has been transcribing Dameron’s arrangements from recordings and performing them with a big band. Three transcriptions of Dameron’s arrangements, and an arrangement of “If You Could See Me Now,” by Melba Liston were included in this years charts for high school bands competing for inclusion in the Essentially Ellington program organized by Jazz at Lincoln Center. I have also been assisting others, including the U.S. Army Blues, in putting together concerts of Dameron’s music, and will report on those in the next posting.


2. “I’d Rather Have A Mem’ry Than A Dream”

At the moment I cannot locate the source of my information, but it turns out that “I’d Rather Have A Mem’ry Than A Dream,” recorded Sarah Vaughan in 1945 for Continental, was written by Leonard Feather. Dameron was the pianists and, no doubt, the arranger for this tune only, but Feather was the producer. The assumption by some that Dameron was the composer of this song comes from the fact that authorship is not attributed on the recording. Much of my research is still in boxes after my move to the West Coast, and if you need that attribution, please contact me. Otherwise I will mention it in future postings.


3. A Visit To Tulane re: The Boyd Raeburn Repertoire

In my book I wrote:

            By the summer of 1945, tenor saxophonist Frank Socolow had joined Raeburn. He recalled            that, “at the time it was a wonderful musical organization. It was less commercial than any    band I had been with, and the arrangements were great because a lot of them were Tadd   Dameron arrangements.” [Ira Gitler, Swing To Bop: 207.]


            After the book came out I was introduced to Bruce Raeburn, Boyd’s son. He invited me to come look through the band’s book, which he inherited from his father. Bruce lives in New Orleans and works at Tulane University, where he heads up the staff at the Jazz section of Special Collections there. I was finally able to go just after New Year’s this year, 2017.


            Bruce had already located the parts for “Boydstown,” which was only known as a title in a Copyright document from 1964. It turns out this is an alternate title for an arrangement of “Our Delight” Tadd wrote for Raeburn.  I have copied the parts and built a score. It differs substantially from the arrangement written for and recorded by Billy Eckstine, as well as by Dizzy Gillespie (a rear instance which occurred because Eckstine shared several of the charts from his book with Gillespie when the latter started his band; Dameron preferred to fashion his arrangements for specific bands). I hope to arrange for a performance of “Boydstown” in the near future, and will have more to say about “Our Delight” and “Boydstown” in my next posting.


            I could not find any other arrangements in the collection that were clearly Tadd’s , but there were only a double handful of full or short scores in the dozen plus boxes of music. There were some of George Handy’s and Johnnie Richards’ arrangements in score, but no where near the number of those that were likely written for Raeburn. I have been informed that some, or possibly many of the 1940s arrangements may be at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers, Newark. I asked Bruce Raeburn about this and he responded, “The IJS scores are things that I made available to Bill Schremp for Smithsonian concert in 1980. He neglected to ask my permission when he gave those copies to Rutgers. He also willed other copies to Carbondale.” While I have a recollection of looking through those at the IJS, it was some time ago, and I will try to revisit the collection on my next trip East. I am afraid it may be some time before I can get to Carbondale.


4. Recordings and Articles

I had the pleasure of being asked to write liner notes for the CD Dameronia With Strings, conceived and produced by Turkish Drummer Ferit Odman. The project was inspired by the Blue Mitchell recording Smootht As the Wind, for which Dameron wrote most of the arrangements and provided the title tune. I have also written additional liner notes for a reissue of To Tadd With Love, recorded in 1982 by Philly Joe Jones and his Dameronia band, which should be released sometime this year.


5. Vido Musso Transcriptions

I have heard a set of Davis-Schwegler Transcriptions of tunes played by the Vido Musso Orchestra. Many of them sound like Dameron’s writing for Harlan Leonard in 1940. Dameron was writing for Musso just before he went to work for Leonard. I am still trying to get a date for these recordings. If they do come from late 1939 or early 1940, they may well be Dameron’s work.


6. Pancho Hagood

One of the difficulties of being an independent researcher who does not work in a college or university is having to do the research with very little assistance. More than once I found that I could have interviewed someone I had thought was no longer alive only when their death was announced. In retrospect one could reasonably say that I should have made a better effort to confirm a person’s passing, rather than just making an assumption about it. However, the research and writing of the book had to be done in spare time, and with spare resources investigating every possible interviewee just was not practical.


One of the people I would have liked to have talked to was Kenny “PanchoHagood. I have been provided with Hagood’s own professional biography. He began his career by working with Benny Carter when he was just 17. He also did “a brief tour” with Nat Cole, among some other gigs before returning to his home town of Detroit, where he auditioned for Dizzy Gillespie in 1945 or 1946. He worked with Gillespie through the 1948 European Tour. He sang with Dameron at the Royal Roost during a stand that had both bands on the bill.


Over the years Hagood, who was also a pianist, toured with Jazz At The Philharmonic, and sang, or possibly played, with a long list of jazz luminaries. From 1959 to 1965 he lived and performed in France. After his return to the United States he took up residence in Los Angeles and continued to perform as a singer/pianist working the supper club circuit.


In 1980 Pancho returned to Detroit and worked with the band of David Swain, to whom I am indebted for this information. He probably continued performing as a singing pianist. He died of cancer in Detroit at the age of 62 in 1989, two years after I had started research on the book. Mr. Swain recalled Hagood’s fond recollections of Tadd.


- Paul Combs – Dameronia – the Life and Music of Tadd Dameron