Cliff Leeman

Decades: 1950s 1970s 1980s


10 September 1913, Portland, Maine, USA, d. 26 April 1986, New York City, New York, USA. After playing in the percussion section of a local symphony orchestra, Leeman turned to dance band and jazz drumming as a career. In 1936, he joined Artie Shaw, playing an important role in the band’s swing era success story. After leaving Shaw, he played in several leading big bands, including those led by Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman. In the late 40s, as the big bands became fewer, Leeman played in many small groups along New York’s 52nd Street, returning briefly to big band work whenever opportunities were offered. In the 50s he worked in the studios but continued to play in jazz groups, usually those with a traditional bent. During this and the following decade he worked with Big Joe Turner, (appearing on the singer’s classic Boss Of The Blues), Eddie Condon, Ralph Sutton (with whom he recorded a duo album, I Got Rhythm), Wild Bill Davison,...

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