Biography

Albert Edwin Condon (1905–1973), better known as Eddie Condon, was a banjoist, guitarist, and bandleader. A leading figure in the so-called Chicago school of early jazz, he also played piano and sang on occasion.

Condon was born on 16th November 1905 in Goodland, Indiana. After some time playing ukulele, he switched to banjo and was a professional musician by 1921. He was based in Chicago for most of the 1920s, and played with such jazz notables as Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Teschemacher.

In 1928 Condon moved to New York City. He frequently arranged jazz sessions for various record labels, sometimes playing with the artists he brought to the recording studios, including Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. He organised racialy integrated recording sesions when such were still rare with Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Henry ‘Red’ Allen. He played with the band of Red Nichols for a time. Later, from 1938 he had a long association with Milt Gabler’s Commodore Records.

From the late 1930s on he was a regular at the Manhattan jazz club Nick’s. The sophisticated variation on music which Condon and his colleagues created there came to be nicknamed “Nicksieland”. By this time, his regular circle of musical associates included Wild Bill Davison, Bobby Hackett, Edmond Hall, and Pee Wee Russell.

From 1945 to 1967 he ran his own New York jazz club, Eddie Condon’s. In the 1950s Condon recorded a sequence of classic albums for Columbia Records. The musicians involved in these albums - and at Condon’s club - included Wild Bill Davison (cornet), Billy Butterfield (trumpet), Edmond Hall, Peanuts Hucko, Pee Wee Russell (clarinet), Cutty Cutshall, Lou McGarity (trombone), Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Gene Schroeder, Dick Carey, Ralph Sutton (piano), Bob Casey, Walter Page, Jack Lesberg, Al Hall (bass), George Wettling, Buzzy Drootin, Cliff Leeman (drums).

In 1948 his autobiography We Called It Music was published, and contains many interesting and entertaining anecdotes about musicians Condon worked with. Eddie Condon’s Treasury of Jazz (1956) was a collection of articles by various writers co-edited by Condon and Richard Gehman.

Condon toured and appeared at jazz festivals through to 1971. He died in New York City on 4th August 1973.

Edited by Grosseteste on 11 Mar 2012, 14:12

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Formed in
  • 1905
Split in
  • 1973
Founded in
  • Goodland, Indiana

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