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Abbey, Leon (Alexander)locked

  • Rainer E. Lotz

(bMinneapolis, May 7, 1900; dMinneapolis, Sept 15, 1975). Americanbandleader and violinist. He began his career playing light and classical music as a member of J. Rosamond Johnson’s orchestra (1920–25). In 1925 he recorded as a soloist with Clara Smith (If you only knowed, Col. 14058D, and You better keep the home fires burning, Col. 14062D) and began to lead his own band. The following year he directed the Savoy Bearcats, and in 1927 he reorganized the group for a tour of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; he also took a band to England. Between 1928 and 1939 he toured extensively in Europe and visited India twice. After returning to the USA he organized a band in 1940 for Ethel Waters, toured with a small group, and then settled in Chicago, where he played regularly with a trio until 1964. Although he was not a jazz soloist, Abbey employed excellent sidemen, including Fletcher Allen, Emile Christian, Bill Coleman, Peter DuConge, and Crickett Smith. His jazz recordings as a leader remain unissued except for Whoa Babe, recorded in Copenhagen in 1938 and first issued on Jazz and Hot Dance in Denmark (Harl. 2024, 1986).


  • B. Englund: “Leon Abbey and his Recordings,” Sv, no.49 (1973), 7
  • R. Gulliver: “Leon Abbey,” Sv, no.73 (1977), 4
  • H. Rye: “Visiting Firemen, 8,” Sv, no.108 (1983), 207
  • M. Clausen: “‘Swing-time 1938’ in the North,” Sv, no.121 (1985), 10
  • M. Clausen: “Leon Abbey in Denmark, 1939,” Sv, no.125 (1986), 168