Victor Feldman

Victor Stanley Feldman (7 April 1934 – 12 May 1987) was an English jazz musician who played mainly piano, vibraphone, and percussion. He began performing professionally during childhood, eventually earning acclaim in the UK jazz scene as an adult. Feldman emigrated to the United States in the mid-1950s, where he continued working in jazz and also as a session musician with a variety of pop and rock performers.

Victor Feldman
Feldman in San Francisco, 1976
Background information
Birth nameVictor Stanley Feldman
Born(1934-04-07)7 April 1934
Edgware, London, England
Died12 May 1987(1987-05-12) (aged 53)
Woodland Hills, California, United States
InstrumentsVibraphone, drums, percussion, piano
Associated actsMiles Davis, Lighthouse All-Stars, Steely Dan

Early life

Feldman was born in Edgware on 7 April 1934.[1] He caused a sensation as a musical prodigy when he was "discovered", aged seven. His family were all musical and his father founded the Feldman Swing Club in London in 1942 to showcase his talented sons.[2] Feldman performed from a young age: "from 1941 to 1947 he played drums in a trio with his brothers; when he was nine he took up piano and when he was 14 started playing vibraphone".[1] He featured in the films King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942) and Theatre Royal (1943). In 1944 he was featured at a concert with Glenn Miller's AAAF band, as "Kid Krupa" (in reference to drummer Gene Krupa).[3] He also "took a prominent role in the musical Piccadilly Hayride" (1946–48).[1]

Later life and career

His drums teacher Carlo Krahmer encouraged Feldman to play the vibraphone which he did first in the Ralph Sharon Sextet and later in the Roy Fox band. Feldman played with Vic Lewis and Ted Heath.[1] Feldman played with Sharon from late 1949 to 1951, including for performances in Switzerland.[1] There were further overseas trips with Ronnie Scott (to Paris in 1952), and Harry Parry (to India).[1] He also played with Parry in the UK from October 1953 to January 1954.[1] From 1954, when he recorded with Jimmy Deuchar, and played again with Scott, "he was working mainly as a pianist and vibraphonist; his early vibraphone playing showed the influence of Milt Jackson".[1]

He was a notable percussionist, but it was as a pianist and vibraphone player that he became best known.[4]

Before leaving the UK to work in the US, 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. It was Scott who recommended that Feldman emigrate to the US, which he did in 1955.[5] Once there, his first steady work was with the Woody Herman Herd.[5] He had frequent return trips to the UK over the following years.[5] His 8-week visit in 1956–57 included studio recording sessions and club appearances.[5] After Herman he joined Buddy DeFranco for a short time.[1] In 1958, he had his own working band on the west coast, which included the innovative bassist Scott LaFaro. His 1958 album The Arrival of Victor Feldman includes LaFaro and Stan Levey on drums. He recorded with many 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. Davis invited Feldman to join his group full-time, but Feldman declined, preferring the stability of studio work to the career of a touring musician.[6] 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 specialised in lucrative session work for the US film and recording industry. He also branched out to work with a variety of musicians outside of jazz, recording with artists such as Frank Zappa in 1967, Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell in the 1970s and Tom Waits and Joe Walsh in the 1980s. It is Feldman's percussion work on Steely Dan's song "Do It Again" that gives the song its Latin groove. Feldman appears on all seven Steely Dan albums released in the 70s and 1980 in the band's first incarnation.

Feldman's vibraphone soloing is featured extensively on the Grammy Award-winning The Music from Peter Gunn, with AllMusic writing, "There's some particularly impressive work by drummer Shelly Manne and vibes player Victor Feldman, whose cool, understated playing seems to deliberately recall that of Milt Jackson."[7]

Feldman died in 1987 at his home in Los Angeles, aged 53, following an asthma attack.[5]

In 2009, he was inducted in the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.[8]


As leader

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1948–54 The Young Vic Esquire With various
1955 Suite Sixteen Tempo Some quartet; some septet; some big band
1956 Victor Feldman in London, Vol 1 Tempo Some tracks quartet with Terry Shannon (piano), Pete Blannin and Lennie Bush (bass; separately), Phil Seamen (drums); one track quartet with Dizzy Reece (trumpet), Bush (bass), Seamen (drums)
1956 Transatlantic Alliance Tempo With various
1956–57 Victor Feldman in London, Vol 2 Tempo With various
1957 Vic Feldman on Vibes Mode Most tracks quartet, with Carl Perkins (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Stan Levey (drums); some tracks sextet, with Frank Rosolino (trombone), Harold Land (tenor sax) added
1958 The Arrival of Victor Feldman Contemporary Trio, with Scott LaFaro (bass), Stan Levey (drums)
1959 Latinsville! Contemporary With various
1960–61 Merry Olde Soul Riverside Most tracks trio, with Sam Jones and Andy Simpkins (bass; separately), Louis Hayes (drums); some tracks quartet, with Hank Jones (piano) added
1962 Stop the World I Want to Get Off World Pacific Trio, with Bob Whitlock (bass), Lawrence Marable (drums)
1962 A Taste of Honey and a Taste of Bossa Nova Infinity Some tracks quartet with Nino Tempo (tenor sax), Bob Whitlock (bass), Colin Bailey (drums); some tracks quartet with Buddy Collette (tenor sax, flute), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Ron Jefferson (drums); some tracks quintet, with Clifford Scott (flute, tenor sax), Laurindo Almeida (guitar), Al McKibbon (bass), Chico Guerrero (drums)
1962 Soviet Jazz Themes Äva Some tracks sextet with Harold Land (tenor sax), Nat Adderley (cornet), Joe Zawinul (piano), Bob Whitlock (bass), Frank Butler (drums); some tracks sextet with Land (tenor sax), Carmell Jones (trumpet), Herb Ellis (guitar), Whitlock (bass), Butler (drums)
1964 Love Me with All Your Heart Vee Jay With unknown others
1964 It's a Wonderful World Vee Jay Quartet, with Bill Perkins (flute), Monty Budwig (bass), Colin Bailey (drums)
1965 His Own Sweet Way Ronnie Scott's Jazz House Trio, with Rick Laird (bass), Ronnie Stephenson (drums); in concert
1967 Victor Feldman Plays Everything in Sight Pacific Jazz Feldman plays all instruments
1967 The Venezuela Joropo Pacific Jazz Most tracks with Bill Perkins (flute, alto flute), Dorothy Remson (harp), Emil Richards (vibes, marimba), Al Hendrickson (guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Larry Bunker (timbales), Milt Holland (maracas, percussion); some tracks with Perkins (flute, alto flute), Dennis Budimir (guitar), Monty Budwig (bass), Colin Bailey (drums)
1970? Smooth TBA As Victor Feldman's Generation Band
1973? Your Smile with Larance Marable, Bob Whitlock
1973? Seven Steps to Heaven Choice Quartet, with Tom Scott (alto sax, tenor sax, flute, alto flute), Chuck Domanico (bass), John Guerin (drums)
1977? The Artful Dodger Concord With Jack Sheldon (trumpet, vocals), Monty Budwig and Chuck Domanico (bass; separately); Colin Bailey (drums)
1977? In My Pocket
1978 Together Again Yupiteru with Monty Budwig (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)
1982? Soft Shoulder Nautilus As Generation Band; with various
1982? Secret of the Andes Palo Alto With Hubert Laws (flute), Lee Ritenour (guitar), Abraham Laboriel (electric bass), Harvey Mason (drums), Alex Acuña and Milt Holland (percussion)
1983 To Chopin with Love Highlight Trio, with John Patitucci (bass), Trevor Feldman (drums)
1984? Call of the Wild As Generation Band; with various
1984 Fiesta TBA With Chuck Mangione (flugelhorn, trumpet), Chick Corea (keyboards), Dianne Reeves (vocals)
1985? High Visibility As Victor Feldman's Generation Band; with various

Main source:[9]

As sideman

With Dane Donohue

  • Dane Donohue "Casablanca" (Columbia, 1978)

With Pepper Adams

With Cannonball Adderley

With Leo Sayer

  • Here (Chrysalis Records, 1979)

With Michael Franks

With Glenn Frey

With Marvin Gaye

With Maria Muldaur

  • Sweet Harmony (Reprise Records, 1976)
  • Open Your Eyes (Warner Bros. Records, 1979)

With Dusty Springfield

  • Cameo (ABC Dunhill Records, 1973)

With Nat Adderley

With Karla Bonoff

With Patti Austin

With Gregg Allman Band

With Curtis Amy

With Sam Phillips

With James Clay

With Yvonne Elliman

  • Yvonne (RSO Records, 1979)

With Rita Coolidge

With Bob Cooper

With Stephen Bishop

With B.B. King

With Christopher Cross

With Stephanie Mills

With Liza Minnelli

With Miles Davis

With Dalbello

With Dionne Warwick

  • Love at First Sight (Warner Bros. Records, 1977)
  • Friends in Love (Arista Records, 1982)

With Olivia Newton-John

With José Feliciano

  • 10 to 23 (RCA Victor, 1969)

With Valerie Carter

  • Wild Child (ARC, 1978)

With Melba Moore

  • Peach Melba (Buddah Records, 1975)

With Amy Grant

With Peter Allen

With Cher

With Melanie

With Lulu

  • Lulu (Polydor Records, 1973)

With Neil Diamond

With Buddy DeFranco

With Jackie DeShannon

With Carly Simon

With Al Jarreau

  • Jarreau (Warner Bros. Records, 1983)

With The Doobie Brothers

With The Free Movement

With Solomon Burke

  • Electronic Magnetism (MGM Records, 1971)

With Thelma Houston

With Jimmy Webb

With Woody Herman

  • At the Monterey Jazz Festival (Atlantic, 1959)

With Paul Horn

With Milt Jackson

With J. J. Johnson

With Plas Johnson

With Randy Newman

With Quincy Jones

With Sam Jones

With Stan Kenton

  • Hair (Capitol, 1969)

With Barney Kessel

With Minnie Riperton

  • Minnie (Capitol Records, 1979)

With Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

With John Klemmer

With Henry Mancini

With Shelly Manne

With Carmen McRae

With Blue Mitchell

With Nicolette Larson

With Peggy Lee

With Wendy Waldman

  • The Main Refrain (Warner Bros. Records, 1976)

With Oliver Nelson

With Art Pepper and Zoot Sims

With Sonny Rollins

With Lalo Schifrin

With Bud Shank

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Boz Scaggs

With Steely Dan

With Joni Mitchell

With James Taylor

With Gino Vannelli

With Harold Vick

With Leroy Vinnegar

With Tom Waits

With Gerald Wilson

With Elton John

With Frank Zappa

With Joe Walsh


  1. Larson, Steve; Kernfeld, Barry, Feldman, Victor (Stanley) [Vic], Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, retrieved 27 September 2018 (subscription required)}}
  2. Barbara Feldman (16 September 1995). "100 Oxford Street – Arts & Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  3. "British-Born Jazz Prodigy Victor Feldman Dies". Los Angeles Times. 14 May 1987. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  4. Jazz, All About. "Victor Feldman - Part 1: The Arrival". All About Jazz. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. Gelly 2014, p. 119.
  6. See Bob Belden's liner notes to the 2005 reissue of Seven Steps to Heaven. Columbia/Legacy CK 93592
  7. "The Music of Peter Gunn (Original Soundtrack)". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  8. Gilbert 10/13/2009, Calvin. "Rascal Flatts Perform With Toto During Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony". CMT News. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  9. "Victor Feldman Catalog". Retrieved 1 August 2018.


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