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Piano Demon: The Globetrotting, Gin-soaked, Too-short Life of Teddy Weatherford, the Chicago Jazzman Who Conquered Asia

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Piano Demon: The globetrotting, gin-soaked, too-short life of Teddy Weatherford, the Chicago jazzman who conquered Asia

At age six, Teddy Weatherford was working in the coal mines of Virginia. By his early twenties he was the toast of Chicago’s jazz scene, rivaling Louis Armstrong and wowing Jelly Roll Morton with his piano talent. But when Weatherford left segregated Ameri
Kindle Edition, 37 pages
Published January 12th 2011 by The Atavist
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A quick little book afik only available via ebook download. Somehow I came across this while surfing and decided to check it out. It's a bio of an obscure pianist named Teddy Weatherford. Teddy was from the US but found he could make a very comfortable living working in Shanghai, Ceylon and finally Calcutta where he died in 1945. So this short work gathers what little can be gathered about Teddy and in so doing makes a nice read for music fanatic such as myself.
Stride pianist Teddy Weatherford is barely a footnote in jazz history. He was acclaimed as a brilliant pianist yet he only made a handful of recordings which are close to impossible to find. Yet he was quite successful until his death from Cholera in 1945. His reason for success is what makes this too short biography interesting. He left America in the 20s and spend the rest of his life abroad, mainly in China and India thus setting the stage for mainly black jazz musicians who chose to work abr ...more
Jeff Crompton
As soon as I became aware of this short book, which apparently has only been published in electronic form, I downloaded it immediately and read it in one day. I've long been fascinated by Teddy Weatherford, whose solos on his only American recording, a 1926 Erskine Tate 78, are brilliant. Unfortunately for the jazz world, Weatherford spent the rest of his career in Asia, with a brief stopover in Paris. The Paris stay resulting in some excellent recordings, but the records from his years in India ...more
The Calcutta (and not Kolkata !) reference drew me in. Then there was this really short wikipedia page and of course the book is small but well written. I mean, really well put-together as someone can do with such little cited information and that air of mystery.

Recommended read. It is a quick read anyway :)

Some more information at and,
Sep 01, 2011 Denali rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
What a neat surprise: At several points the story of Teddy Weatherford is ~3 degrees away from various pieces of my family history! I thought this was a fascinating account but felt like it didn't have as much of a bigger narrative as some of the other excellent Atavist pieces I've read.
Juliet Doubledee
Interesting short piece explaining why some black Jazz muscians chose to play in China and India, rather than join bands at home and face overt discrimination. It is unfortunate that they could live like kings in Asia,but still when all was done dreamed of a life state side.
Surprise fun book. One of Amazon's cheapies that was worth the effort to read!
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Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and the author of The Skies Belong to Us and Now the Hell Will Start, the latter of which he is currently adapting for filmmaker Spike Lee. A former columnist for both The New York Times and Slate who was named one of Columbia Journalism Review’s “Ten Young Writers on the Rise,” he has also written for Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN ...more
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