Condon, Eddie (actually, Albert Edwin)
Condon, Eddie (actually, Albert Edwin)
Condon, Eddie (actually, Albert Edwin),early jazz banjo player, guitarist, singer, bandleader, club owner; b. Goodland, Ind., Nov. 16, 1905; d. N.Y., Aug. 4, 1973. He started on ukelele, then switched to banjo (and eventually guitar). He did local gigs with Bill Engleman’s Band in Cedar Rapids (September 1921), later worked in Hollis Peavey’s Jazz Bandits (1922). He played in Chicago and Syracuse with Bix Beiderbecke, then rejoined Peavey’s Jazz Bandits. He returned to Chicago in 1924, gigged with the Austin High Gang, and did residencies and summer seasons with various groups. He co-led recording group with Red McKenzie in 1928. Condon moved to N.Y. in 1928, led his own recording group, and did freelance recording sessions with Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. He fell in with several musicians with whom he maintained long associations, including Max Kaminsky, Jack Teagarden, Sid Catlett, Pee Wee Russell, and Bud Freeman. He toured with Red Nichols (1929), then worked in N.Y. and Fla. with Red McKenzie and the Mound City Blue Blowers (1930 –31) and again in 1933. Condon played piano with George Carhart’s Band on a cruise to South America and worked with Mike Reilly and Eddie Farley (1935), then with Red McKenzie in N.Y. Critically afflicted with pancreatitis in April 1936, he recoverd and then worked from summer of 1936 as co-leader of a band with Joe Marsala and played on liner cruise with Marsala (December 1936). He left early in 1937, worked regularly leading his own group at a N.Y. club, Nick’s. In 1938 he helped to launch Milt Gabler’s Commodore label with a series of small-band recordings. He was with Bobby Hackett from summer of 1938, Bud Freeman’s Summa Cum Laude Band (1939 –40) and regularly led his own recording band through the 1930s. Condon performed again with Bobby Hackett (1940), Joe Marsala (1941), and in 1942 organized the first televised jam session and began running his own jazz concerts at N.Y/s Town Hall; some were broadcast to servicemen during World War II. Condon worked at Nick’s with Brad Gowans (1943), with Joe Marsala Big Band, then with Miff Mole (1944). In December 1945 he opened his own club, Condon’s, in N.Y., where he promoted integration of the bandstand—an idea to which he was fully committed. The club changed premises in February 1958 and finally closed in July 1967. From the 1950s, Condon only played occasionally at the club; he did brief tours and occasional residencies in Chicago, Calif., Canada, etc. He led a group for a tour of Britain (early 1957) and Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (spring 1964). Condon underwent serious operations in 1964 and 1965. Early in 1970 he worked with Roy Eldridge-Kai Winding group in N.Y., sharing guitar duties with Jim Hall. During the late 1960s and 1970s he appeared at many U.S. jazz festivals and led his own group in Raleigh, N.C., for part of 1970. He then toured with Barney Bigard, Wild Bill Davison, and Art Hodes (October 1971).
He was also the author of celebrated wisecracks. When French critic Hugues Panassie came to N.Y. to produce records, Condon quipped “Do I tell him how to jump on a grape?” On the subject of Bop, he said “We don’t flatten our fifths, we drink ’em.”
“Jammin’ at Commodore” (1938); “Dixieland All Stars” (1939); “Gershwin Program” (1941); Night at Eddie Condon’s(1944); Jam Sessions (1944); Town Hall Concerts, Vols. 1 –9 (1945); Eddie Condon Floor Show (1949); Dr. Jazz Series, Vol. 5 (1951); Dr. Jazz Series, Vol. 1 (1952); Jammin’ aï Condon’s (1954); Condon Concert (1956); Dixieland Jam (1957); Chicago Jazz (1961); Midnight in Moscow (1962); In Japan (1964); Legend (1965); Jazz as Jf Should Be Played (1968); Eítá/e Condon Jam Session (1970); Spini of Condon (1971); Jazz ai ft* New School (1972).
R. Gehman, ed., E. C.’s Treasury of Jazz (N.Y., 1956); H. O’Neal, £. C. Scrapbook of Jazz (N.Y., 1973); B. White, The E. C. Town Hall Broadcasts 1944 –45: A Discography (Oakland, Calif., 1980); G. Lombardi, Eddie Condon on Record, 1927 (Milan, 1987).
—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Music Master Jazz and blues catalogue/Lewis Porter