Steep Wade | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Steep Wade

Harold Gordon Pemberton "Steep" Wade, pianist, saxophonist (born 19 January 1918 in Montréal, QC; died 6 December 1953 in Montréal). A jazz musician of considerable legend, Wade is thought to have been largely self-taught.

Wade played alto saxophone or piano 1937-46 in Montréal and elsewhere with, in turn, the pianist Myron Sutton's Canadian Ambassadors, the trumpeter Jimmy Jones, and the saxophonist Lloyd Duncan's Seven Sharp Swingsters. It was as a member 1946-9 of the trumpeter Louis Metcalf's International Band that he established his reputation in Montreal as a bebop pianist with particular skill as an accompanist in the style of Bud Powell. A fixture with Metcalf at the Café St-Michel, Wade was an influence on, or mentor to, many of the city's jazz pianists, including Oscar Peterson. Wade was less active in the remaining few years before his death (presumed to be drug or alcohol related), although he participated 7 Feb 1953 in a concert at the Chez Paree with the US saxophonist Charlie Parker. A single performance from the afternoon, Embraceable You, was later issued on Bird on the Road (Jazz Showcase 5003), and is one of just a half-dozen known recordings of Wade.

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