Dorothy Donegan

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Dorothy Donegan, 1943

Dorothy Donegan (born April 6, 1924 in Chicago , Illinois , † May 19, 1998 in Los Angeles , California) was an American jazz pianist .

Donegan grew up in Chicago and took piano lessons at the age of 6. Her pianistic ability was recognized and promoted early on at the Conservatory and Chicago Musical College ; then she went to the University of Southern California . In the early 1940s she was Art Tatum's protégé ; In 1942 she recorded her first record, then initially worked in cocktail lounges . In addition to Cab Calloway and WC Fields , she got a role in the musical film Sensations of 1945 , then also worked in the theater ( Star Time ). With the greatest virtuosity, but without a sure sense of style, she became a piano sensation with a penchant for eclecticism : In her highly virtuosic playing, Rachmaninoff blended disrespectfully with Jimmy Yancey . When her breakthrough in the US jazz business did not succeed immediately and in a rocket-like manner, she switched from the jazz trio founded in 1945 - with which she recorded a 78 for the small label Continental - back to solo performances and also considered switching to classical concert business. But instead she worked in the nightclubs of Chicago and entertained the local audience with jazz standards and evergreens, "more than undemanding audiences who paid more attention to their legs, bosom and bottom than their competent rolling left" (says Axel Melhardt, the operator of the Wiener Jazz bars Jazzland ).

Her first six albums appear comparatively obscure alongside her later live successes. It was not until the 1980s that she was really recognized in musical life and was also regularly invited to Europe, where she delighted audiences, for example, at the North Sea Jazz Festival , but also in clubs such as Vienna's Jazzland . This fortune is also reflected in her live recordings from 1991. She has also been invited to give lectures at Harvard University , Northeastern University and the Manhattan School of Music and received an honorary doctorate .

After she died of cancer, she was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998. The classically trained pianist is best known for her boogie-woogie performances, although she has also played bebop , swing jazz, and classical music.

Discographic notes


  • 1953/1979 - Dorothy Romps - A Piano Retrospective - (Rosetta Records - Women's Heritage Series)
  • 1979 - Makin 'Whoopee - solo (Black and Blue)
  • 1980 - I Just Wand To Sing - with Jerome Hunter b & Ray Mosca - (Audiophile)
  • 1990 - Live at the Floating Jazz Festival - with Jon Burr b & Ray Mosca (Chiaroscuro)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Report on Dorothy Donegan in Vienna's Jazzland 2005

Web links