Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Short, Damon (Riley)
Short, Damon (Riley), drummer, percussionist, composer, b. Moline IL, 28 February 1954. Grew up in Rock Island IL, with parents Orville (1916-2001) and Virginia (b. 1919), sister Mary (b. 1942) and brothers Craig (b. 1947) and Brian (b. 1961) His father was an amateur pianist and he developed an interest in music from around age 4, with classical recordings in the home and his older brother's interest in drumming and music of the Swing Era.
Self-taught as a set drummer, Short studied percussion and composition at Black Hawk Community College, Moline IL (1972-74) before spending the fall semester 1974 at San Diego State University, where he studied the music and instruments of composer Harry Partch. He returned to Illinois in 1975 to study composition and percussion at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb IL (BM in composition, 1977; MM in percussion, 1979), studying composition with Paul Steg, percussion with David Johnson, Garry Kvistad (at the time members of the Blackearth Percussion Group) and G. Allan O'Connor, and new music/improvisation with J.B. Floyd and Joseph Pinzarrone. During this period he developed a compositional style which blends elements of European chamber music with more standard jazz rhythmic/harmonic forms. He presented extended original compositions on his Graduate Recitals in 1978 and 1979. His historical interests are reflected in a series of anthological radio programs (in addition to a regular weekly jazz program) for NPR outlet WNIU in Dekalb from 1977-1982. After graduation he moved to Chicago and formed a Monk repertory group, 'Worry Later', which disbanded after only a few months in 1981 but produced a studio document featuring saxophonist Chuck Burdelik (released some 20 years later). In 1983 he moved to New Orleans, where he continued his performing and radio broadcasts, appearing at two new music festivals there and receiving a Louisiana Arts Council grant to produce his first studio recording in 1986. Returning to Chicago in 1987, he formed a series of small groups concentrating on original compositions as well as works by Herbie Nichols and Grachan Moncur III. His quintet appeared at the 1989 Chicago Jazz Festival. His groups appeared as part of the Hennessy National Jazz Search finals in Chicago and the National Jazz Service Organization conference in 1993. He started the limited-edition "DepthPerception" label of archived live and studio material in 2001, and returned to the Chicago Jazz Festival that year. In addition to his own groups, he has appeared in ensembles led by Rob Blakeslee, Vinny Golia, Paul Smoker, Steve Grismore/Paul Scea and Anthony Braxton, and additionally has recorded as sideman with Scott Fields, Fred Hess and Andre Caporaso. He and his wife Kathy (married 1986) have one son, Eric (b. 1991).
Penguin Shuffle (1986); All of the Above (1990); Third Prize! (1993); Airplay (1993); Damon Short/Jim Baker Duo: Incidental Dialects (1995-7); Damon Short/Paul Scea Duo: Brainstorm (1996); Damon Short/Paul Scea Quartet: Removable Media (1997); Damon Short/Paul Scea Duo: Balance of Power (1997); Go Figure (1997); Paul Smoker/Damon Short Quintet live recording (unreleased, 1999); Extended Family (2002)
Worry Later: Acme Monastery (1981); Ryan Shultz studio recording (1995-97); Scott Fields: 96 Gestures (1998); Rob Blakeslee project (unreleased, 1999); Fred Hess: Exposed (2001)
TV broadcasts on BET "Jazz Discovery" (1995) and Chicago cable access (1993)
WBEZ, Chicago, 1991-2
Review of All of the Above, down beat, August 1995 (four stars)
"Damon Short Tries It at Home" (Peter Margasak), Chicago Reader, 11/30/2001
"A Damon Short Discography" (Derek Taylor), one final note, issue 7-8 summer 2001