The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron
Paul Combs
Foreword by Benny Golson
The first authoritative biography of jazz great Tadd Dameron


Dameronia is the first authoritative biography of Tadd Dameron, an important and widely influential figure in jazz history and one of the most significant composers and arrangers of jazz, swing, bebop, and big band. This book sets out to clarify Dameron’s place in the development of jazz in the post–World War II era, as he arranged for names like Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, and Dizzy Gillespie and played with Bull Moose Jackson and Benny Golson. It also attempts to shed light on the tragedy of his retreat from the center of jazz activity in the 1950s. By tracing Dameron’s career, one finds that until 1958, when he was incarcerated for drug related offenses, he was at the forefront of developments in jazz, sometimes anticipating trends that would not develop fully for several years. Dameron was a very private man, and while some aspects of his story will probably remain an enigma, this book manages to give an intimate portrait of his life and work.

"I will forever see Tadd Dameron as a kind and generous mentor. . . . Until this very day Tadd Dameron continues to sing in my mind’s ear as I remember and listen."
—Benny Golson, from the foreword

“Precious little has been published about Dameron. Especially the music of this enigmatic yet original and influential jazz pianist, composer, and arranger deserves scrutiny. Paul Combs’s book is detailed, well-written, and well-researched.”
—Walter van de Leur, author of Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

“Tadd Dameron finally has the biography he deserves. Musician and educator Paul Combs, who has been meticulously researching Dameron’s life and music for 25 years, offers many newly discovered details about Dameron’s life and music and paints a colorful narrative of his many contributions to jazz as well as his tragedy.”
—Joe Mosbrook, jazz broadcaster and historian

Cover art: Front—Tadd Dameron at home; New York, May 1962. Back—Tadd Dameron standing. Photos by Val Wilmer © Val Wilmer.

Paul Combs is a professional musician, composer, and educator.

Praise / Awards

  • "A composer and music educator, Combs is fully equipped to tackle the technical particulars of Dameron's work ... to readers with a musical background, particularly those interested in jazz composition and arranging, these probing and intelligent explorations of an unsung great's work make Dameronia an essential addition to their library."
    Jazz Times
  • "Precious little has been published about Dameron. Especially the music of this enigmatic yet original and influential jazz pianist, composer and arranger deserves scrutiny. Paul Combs's book is detailed, well-written, and well-researched."
    —Walter van de Leur, Conservatory of Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam

  • "[I] haven't enjoyed a book this much in years...it's a gem."
    —John La Barbera, composer, arranger, and educator

Look Inside

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: Paul Combs discusses Tadd Dameron | All Things Considered, National Public Radio | March 9, 2013

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 290pp.
  • 22 musical examples, 10 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11413-9

Add to Cart
  • $64.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03563-2

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

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  • jazz, jazz music, biography, American studies, musicology, biography, Tadd Dameron, jazz history, swing, bebop, big band, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, Bull Moose Jackson, Benny Golson, piano, pianist, composer, composition