Albany, Joe (Joseph; possibly Albani)

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Albany, Joe (Joseph; possibly Albani)

Albany, Joe (Joseph; possibly Albani), bebop pianist; b. Atlantic City, N.J., Jan. 24, 1924; d. N.Y., Jan. 12, 1988. After playing accordion as a child, Albany switched to piano in high school and in 1942 joined Leo Watson’s group. He worked briefly with Benny Carter, Max Kaminsky, and Rod Cless (at the Pied Piper in N.Y.), as well as Geòrgie Auld, Boyd Raeburn, and Charlie Parker. His Los Angeles radio broadcasts with Parker and studio work with Lester Young are both preserved on recordings from 1946. Serious problems with drugs and alcohol almost destroyed Albany’s career; in addition, his second wife committed suicide while his third almost died from a drug overdose. A home tape recording from 1957 was the only one issued from 1947 until 1971, when his career picked up again. During those years Albany was in the Los Angeles area, although in 1959 he lived in San Francisco and wrote a few songs that Anita O’Day recorded. In 1963 he worked briefly in N.Y. with Charles Mingus and Jay Cameron. Albany made several recordings after 1971 and was the subject of a 1980 documentary, I.A.—A Jazz Life. He was a distinctive bebop artist with a light touch, but personal problems—not only drug addiction but also a reported history of quitting gigs (even one with Charlie Parker) over musical and other differences—kept him from success.


The Right Combination (1957); At Home Alone (1971); Birdtown Birds (1973); Bird Lives (1979); Portrait of an Artist (1982).

—Lewis Porter

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Albany, Joe (Joseph; possibly Albani)

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