Eddie Jefferson Biography

Edgar Jefferson, 3 August 1918, Detroit, Michigan, USA, d. 9 May 1979, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Beginning his showbusiness career as a dancer and occasional singer, Jefferson gradually concentrated on his latter talent. After achieving limited success, as a scat singer in the mid- to late 40s, Jefferson was largely responsible for the creation of so-called ‘vocalese’, devising lyrics to fit solos originally improvised by leading jazz musicians. Among the solos to which Jefferson wrote words was that played on ‘Body And Soul’ by Coleman Hawkins (with whom he had briefly worked in the early 40s), ‘Parker’s Mood’ by Charlie Parker and James Moody’s version of ‘I’m In The Mood For Love’. This composition, variously retitled but usually known as ‘Moody’s Mood For Love’ was recorded by King Pleasure, and achieved considerable success, thus opening doors for its adaptor. Jefferson subsequently worked with Moody’s small group as both singer and manager, an association which lasted for almost 20 years. He continued to adapt solos by important musicians, including Miles Davis and Horace Silver. In the early 70s Jefferson sang with Richie Cole but on 9 May 1979, during an engagement at the Showcase in Detroit and within days of being filmed in performance there, he was fatally shot in the street outside the club.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.