Heywood, Eddie(actually, Edward Jr.)

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Heywood, Eddie(actually, Edward Jr.)

Heywood, Eddie (actually, Edward Jr.), jazz pianist, composer, leader; b. Atlanta, Dec. 4, 1915; d. North Miami, Jan. 2, 1989. His father, Eddie Sr., a graduate of the Boston Cons, of Music, was a famous bandleader-pianist in the 1920s and 1930s. Eddie Jr., was the nephew of bandleader LeRoy Smith. He received his first lessons from his father at the age of eight; at 14 he was playing piano in a local theatre orch. He remained in Atlanta until ca. 1932, then toured with various bands until arriving in N.Y. in 1937. He gigged in N.Y., then joined the Benny Carter Orch. from January 1939 until July 1940. He worked in the Zutty Singleton Trio from July 1940, was briefly with Leonard Ware and Don Redman before leading his own band at Village Vanguard, N.Y, in 1941. This band made a series of landmark recordings in 1943 with Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Andrews Sisters, as well as a popular instrumental version of “Begin the Beguine/’ His sextet played several residencies in N.Y. before working in Calif, (late 1944—45). During their stay in Hollywood they appeared in the films The Dark Corner and High School Kids. He led a sextet in N.Y. for most of 1946, returned to the West Coast early in 1947, and soon afterwards was forced by partial paralysis to quit playing for almost three years. He resumed regular playing in the spring of 1950 and then led his own trio. He achieved considerable success with his composition “Canadian Sunset/’ He also wrote “Soft Summer Breeze/7 “Land of Dreams,” and a tone poem, “Portrait of Martha’s Vineyard.” He suffered a recurrence of hand paralysis in the late 1960s. He recovered by 1972 and played many concerts, also club dates in N.Y and New England (Martha’s Vineyard). He returned to prominence in the mid-1980s with a long stint at N.Y.’s Cookery and a Carnegie Hall concert.

Heywood was a vibrant and original soloist whose work is not well enough known in jazz circles, partly because he did many commercial numbers that did not demonstrate his jazz talents and partly because a stroke in 1947 diminished his technical ability.


Jazz at Cafe Society (1944); Swing Low Sweet H. (1944); Lighlly and Politely (1944); Eight Selections (1944); Touch of E. H. (1957); Featuring E. H. (1957); Canadian Sunset (1958).

—John Chilton who’s who of jazz/Lewis Porter