Born: April 7, 1934 | Died: May 12, 1987 Primary Instrument: Multi-instrumentalist
Victor Feldman was born in Edgware, Middlesex in 1934.
He caused a sensation as a musical prodigy when he was discovered at age 7. His family were all musical and his father founded the Feldman Swing Club in London in 1942 to showcase his talented son. His first professional appearance was playing drums at No 1 Rhythm Club as a member of the Feldman Trio with brothers Robert on clarinet and Monty on piano accordion. In 1944 he was featured at a concert with Glenn Miller's AAAF band, featured inevitably as Kid Krupa. Carlo Krahmer encouraged Feldman to play the vibes which he did first in the Ralph Sharon Sextet and later in the Roy Fox band. He worked in India in 1952 and 1953 in a band led by pianist Eddie Carroll. His vibraphone and conga drum playing were notable, but it was as a pianist that he became best known.
Before leaving the U.K. in 1955 to work in the U.S., Feldman recorded with Ronnie Scott's orchestra and quintet from 1954 to 1955, which also featured other important British jazz musicians such as Phil Seamen and Hank Shaw, among others. It was Scott who recommended that Feldman emigrate to the U.S., which he did in 1957. Once there, his first steady work was with the Woody Herman Herd. From there he went on to join Buddy DeFranco. He recorded with many different jazz artists, including Benny Goodman, George Shearing, Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, most notably on Davis' 1963 album Seven Steps to Heaven, the title tune being his own composition. The 5-CD Shelly Manne Black Hawk set, originally released on LP in September, 1959, is a good representation of Feldman's unmistakable driving comping behind the soloists, helping to define the session as a valuable hard bop genre element.
In 1957 Feldman settled in Los Angeles permanently and then specialized in lucrative session work for the US film and recording industry. He also branched out to work a variety of musicians outside of jazz, working with artists such as Frank Zappa in 1967, Steely Dan in the 1970s and Tom Waits and Joe Walsh in the 1980s. Feldman died at age 53, a year after the death of his wife, to whom he was completely devoted.