By Dr. Kent Englehardt – In the history of jazz, composers and arrangers have played a significant role in both small groups and big bands. This is certainly the case with Tadd Dameron, considered by many to be one of the most important jazz composers. His work with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and with his own small groups and big bands are well known. However, very little of his music is commercially available today, especially the music from The Magic Touch, his last recording project as a leader. Even though some of the pieces were published by Bregman, Vocco, and Conn for the “educational market for big-band jazz, which was still relatively new,” they are now out of print. The recording of The Magic Touch, with a band consisting of jazz stars, took place on February 27, March 9, and April 16, 1962. Ten pieces were recorded including Dameron’s originals “On A Misty Night,” “Fontainbleau,” “Just Plain Talkin’,” “If You Could See Me Now,” “Our Delight,” “Dial B For Beauty,” “Look, Stop And Listen,” “Bevan’s Birthday,” and “Swift As The Wind,” as well as a collaboration with lyricist Bernie Hanighen titled “You’re A Joy.”
Tadley Ewing Peake Dameron was born on February 21, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio, and is known as a composer, arranger, bandleader, and pianist. In addition to composing for his own groups, Dameron wrote for Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ted Heath. In 1958, in the middle of his career, Dameron was arrested and subsequently sentenced to five years imprisonment on federal drug charges. He served most of his sentence at the U.S. Public Helath Service Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where he took part in a drug rehabilitation program. While in the Hospital, Dameron had the opportunity to perform with, and write for, a big band that existed there. According to Joe Goldberg, who wrote the liner notes for The Magic Touch, five pieces for the album were “composed in the Federal Hospital at Lexington Kentucky….” Dameron was released from the Hospital in 1961, one year early, and he resumed composing for his own projects and wrote “scores for recordings by Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Blue Mitchell.” Toward the end of 1962, Dameron began to experience serious health problems that would plague him for the rest of his life. He suffered with a heart ailment, and later developed cancer. He died on March 8, 1965 in New York at age forty-eight.
Upon completion of the project in January of 2017, I emailed Stephen Enos at Cuyahoga Community College to investigate the possibility of recording the music at the new studio at Tri-C. Steve and I began a conversation about this music, Tadd Dameron, other projects of mine, and ideas that he had for upcoming projects. The timing of my email could not have been better. We both agreed that Tadd Dameron’s music must be performed and recorded this year, the centennial of Tadd’s birth in Cleveland, Ohio. Steve and I have assembled a group of musicians/educators from what we are calling the East Central Area. Musicians hail from Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Mansfield, Slippery Rock, Hudson, Cincinnati, Leavittsburg, and Ashland, and they represent Tri-C, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Slippery Rock University, Duquesne University, Ohio State University, and the University of Cincinnati. We hold each one of them in high esteem both as musicians and people.
As I began contacting musicians, Steve began booking performances at Cleveland’s Bop Stop, Akron’s BLU Jazz+, and Tri-C JazzFest, as well as a recording session at Tri-C. Steve and I are beyond excited about this innaugural project together. We are extremly grateful to the musicians for agreeing to share their time, talents, and experiences in the first performance of this music since it was recorded in 1962. I would like to thank Youngstown State University for the unique opportunity to pursue my research interests through the Research Professorship I was awarded. The completed scores and parts will become a part of the YSU Jazz Library and will be available for performance and study for years to come. We hope you will enjoy hearing Tadd Dameron’s music as much as we enjoy performing it. Tadd Dameron truly possessed “The Magic Touch.”
Combs, Paul. Dameronia: The Life And Music Of Tadd Dameron. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2012.
Dameron, Tadd. The The Magic Touch: Tadd Dameron And His Orchestra. Berkely: Riverside Records, compact disk OJCCD-143-2, 1992.
Harrison, Max. “Dameron, Tadd” in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Ed. Barry Kernfeld. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
Kent Engelhardt, alto sax (YSU; co-leader)
David Sterner, alto sax (Tri-C/LCC)
Mike Tomaro, tenor sax Duquesne U
David Kana, tenor sax (YSU)
Tom Reed, bari sax (Ashland U)
Steve Hawk, trumpet (Slippery Rock U)
Joe Badaczewski, trumpet (YSU)
Scott Belck, trumpet (U of Cincinnati)
Steve Enos, trumpet (Tri-C; co-leader)
David Brockett, French horn (CSU)
Sam Blakeslee, trombone (Tri-C)
Mark Mauldin, trombone (Solon High School)
Phil DeGreg, piano (U of Cincinnati)
Dave Morgan, acoustic bass (YSU)
Jim Rupp, (Ohio State/Tri-C)
Erin Keckan, vocals
Kent Engelhardt holds a BM and MM from Youngstown State University and a MA and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and Jazz Education Network. Kent is an active performer, composer, arranger, editor, scholar, author, and educator. His Charlie Parker research, including two books, is published by VDM, Oxford University Press, and the IAJE. He can be heard on numerous recordings including the Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, and the Blossom Festival Band. Kent is a Conn-Selmer Artist and a Remle/Beechler Representative Artist.
Kent was awarded a YSU Research Professorship in 2011-2012 for his project “The ‘Head’ Arrangements of the Count Basie Orchestra 1937-1939” which resulted in eleven new musical editions. He was awarded a second Research Professorship in 2012-2013 for his project “Musical Contextualization of Charlie Parker’s Solos with The Jay McShann Orchestra” which resulted in thirteen new musical editions. In 2013-2014, Kent’s research “The Music of Tadd Dameron for Harlan Leonard and his Rockets” was accomplished through CCAC Professional Development and re-assigned time, and it culminated in seven new editions. Kent is one of nine faculty at YSU who received a Research Professorship for 2016-2017. He has recreated and edited the music from Tadd Dameron’s last recording entitled “The Magic Touch,” which has been completed for the centennial of Tadd Dameron’s birth in Cleveland, Ohio.
Trumpeter, Steve Enos, is Director of Jazz Studies at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). Steve earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Music with a Jazz Performance Emphasis from the Berklee College of Music and his Master’s in Music Education from the University of Akron. He also directs the award winning Tri-C JazzFest High School All-Stars and Tri-C JazzFest Summer with the Jazz Master’s Program. Steve is also a member of the Ernie Krivda Fat Tuesday Big Band and Omnibus Orchestra, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and performs in the Playhouse Square Orchestra for their “Broadway Series”. At the Berklee College of Music he received the Lennie Johnson Memorial Scholarship Award and performed with the Boston famed, Herb Pomeroy Orchestra. He has performed with Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Funk Brothers, Natalie Cole, Louis Bellson, Phil Woods, David Sanborn, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Frankie Valli and others. Under his direction, the Tri-C Jazz Studies Program is a nationally recognized music program with articulation agreements with both the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the Jackie Mclean Jazz Institute at the Hart School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. Some of Tri-C’s outstanding students have included, Sean Jones, Dominick Farinacci, Curtis Taylor, Jerome Jennings, Aaron Kleinstub and Steve Renko. Steve Enos is a Yamaha Artist.
$15 / $20 ($10 student w/ ID at door)
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|Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.|