About the Founder

T. Powell Biography

Teddy Powell (Teodoro Paolella, March 1 1905, Oakland, California - November 17, 1993, New York) was an American jazz guitarist, composer and big band leader. Some of his compositions were under the pseudonym Freddy James.

Powell began playing violin when he was 8, picked up the banjo when he was 14 and led his first band the following year. The original band members stayed together until 1944.

Powell worked locally with Lou Singer and Ray West (1927) before joining Abe Lyman's Orchestra where he spent several years as a musician, vocalist, and arranger until 1934. Powell worked with Lyman on the business side of the music business through 1938, organizing radio bands.

For a brief period in 1939, Teddy Powell led one of the top big bands in jazz. The band hired several highly regarded musicians formerly with the Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Casa Loma orchestras. Irving Fazola, Pete Mondello, John Austin, Nick Caizza, Carmen Mastren, Ely Davis, Hugh Brown, S.J. Kramer, John Popa, Jerry Shane, Irwin Berken were all featured in his bands. With an ensemble full of top musicians, Powell had a very successful debut six-week run at the Famous Door in New York. He bragged that he had done in a short time what it taken Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey years to accomplish. But once he took his band on the road, the lack of name recognition resulted in small crowds, money began to be lost and the more notable sidemen left for other lucrative jobs.

A disastrous fire at the Rustic Cabin in New Jersey in Oct. 1941 resulted in the orchestra losing all its instruments but Powell was able to keep the big band (which underwent a lot of turnover) going into 1944 although not recording anything after 1942..

Teddy Powell retired from bandleading in 1954 and formed a music publishing company in New York City sometime prior to 1960 and prospered. The principal company, among many, was Tee Pee Music Co.

"Earlier editions of the band made swinging recordings for Decca and Bluebird. Among Powell's sidemen through the years were clarinetist Gus Bivona, pianist Tony Aless, clarinetist Irving Fazola, tenor-saxophonist Charlie Ventura and trumpeter Pete Candoli. After his big band's breakup, Powell concentrated on composing and arranging. He wrote several hit songs (including "Bewildered" and "If My Heart Could Only Talk") and led occasional big bands including in Connecticut and Miami. In later years (particularly after 1957) Teddy Powell was mostly involved in his own music publishing business." ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide