Musician and Composer

Leonard Feather presents Dixieland vs. Birdland LP
Cover of LP, Leonard Feather presents Dixieland vs. Birdland

Leonard Feather was a talented musician himself though rarely recorded, in part because of the Musician's Union regulations prohibiting the recording of non-members. Feather was a prolific composer and lyrist; he recorded over 100 songs and wrote the album notes for thousands of LPs. In addition he was an active arranger and producer. By his own estimation, his first quality composition was 'Mighty Like the Blues' performed by Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, and George Chisholm in 1937.

The list of names associated with Leonard Feather’s work is both long and distinguished: Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Charlie Barnet, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, George Shearing, and many others. Some of Feather’s most well-known songs include ‘Evil Gal Blues’, ‘Blow Top Blues’, ‘Dinah’s Blues’, ‘I Remember Bird’, and ‘Twelve Tone Blues’. Possibly his greatest hit was ‘How Blue Can You Get’ first performed by Lois Jordan and B.B. King. Leonard Feather also penned a great many more, lesser-known songs such as 'Get Rich Quick' and 'Taxi Blues'. On October 16, 1951, these songs were the first ever recorded by a teenager named Richard Penniman, later known as Little Richard.

Leonard Feather 1937-1945 LP cover
Cover of LP, Leonard Feather 1937–

Partial discography

  • 1937-1945: Leonard Feather 1937-1945 (Classics)
  • 1951: Leonard Feather’s Swingin’ Swedes (Prestige)
  • 1954: Dixieland vs. Birdland (MGM)
  • 1954: Cats Vs. Chicks (MGM)
  • 1954: Winter Sequence (MGM)
  • 1956: West Coast vs. East Coast (MGM)
  • 1956: Swingin’ on the Vibories (MGM)
  • 1957: Hi-Fi Suite (MGM)
  • 1957: 52nd Street (VSOP)
  • 1958: Swingin’ Seasons (MGM)
  • 1959: Jazz from Two Sides (Concept)
  • 1971: Night Blooming Jazzmen (Mainstream)
  • 1971: Freedom Jazz Dance (Mainstream)
  • 1971-1972: Night Blooming (Mainstream)
  • 1972: All-Stars (Mainstream)
  • 1997: Presents Bop (Tofrec)

From The Encyclopedia of Popular Music pp.414


  • Feather, Leonard G. The Jazz Years: Earwitness to an Era. New York: Da Capo Press, 1987.
  • Kernfeld, Barry, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. St. Martin's Press, 1994.
  • Larkin, Colin, ed. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 3rd ed. London: Muze, 1998.
  • New York Times articles.