Gordon Arthur Delamont, teacher, author, composer, trumpeter (born 27 October 1918 in Moose Jaw, SK; died 16 January 1981 in Toronto, ON). Gordon Delamont was a leading music educator and theorist, and a guiding figure in Canada in the third-stream movement — a synthesis of classical music and jazz. He was perhaps best known as an instructor to many of Canada’s most prominent jazz musicians.
Raised in Vancouver, Gordon Delamont studied trumpet with his father, the bandmaster Arthur Delamont, and was a soloist with the famed Kitsilano Boys’ Band, which his father directed. In 1939 Gordon moved to Toronto, where he played lead trumpet in dance bands and in CBC radio orchestras. He also led a dance band, from 1945 to 1949, which performed at Toronto’s Club Top Hat and other Southern Ontario halls.
After failing health curtailed his career as a trumpeter, Delamont studied arrangement, composition and pedagogy with Maury Deutsch in New York in the summer of 1949, before opening his own studio in Toronto. He taught private lessons on harmony, counterpoint, composition and theory for more than 30 years, counting among his pupils Peter Appleyard, Gustav Ciamaga, Ron Collier, Jimmy Dale, Hagood Hardy, Paul Hoffert, Moe Koffman, Rob McConnell, Ben McPeek, Birnie Piltch, Fred Stone, Norman Symonds and Rick Wilkins, among many others. Like Delamont, Collier and Symonds became leading figures in the third-stream movement.
Delamont led a rehearsal band from 1953 to 1962, in order to provide his students with a platform to perform their compositions. In the 1960s, he directed a jazz octet, which performed for Ten Centuries Concerts, an organization that Delamont helped inspire, and on the CBC.
Delamont contributed articles to Saturday Night, The Canadian Music Journal and various jazz magazines and newspapers. He wrote six books on jazz composition and arrangement that have become required texts in university and college courses around the world. Kendor Music has translated them into Japanese and Italian.
Delamont composed several works that applied classical forms to the jazz idiom. His compositions include Allegro and Blues (1962, for jazz orchestra), Portrait of Charles Mingus (1963, for octet), Ontario Suite (1965, 1967, a piece for soprano and orchestra performed daily at the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 67), Centum (1966, for band), Collage No. 3 and Song and Dance (both 1967, 1970, recorded by the Ron Collier Orchestra with Duke Ellington as soloist), Moderato and Blues for Brass Quintet (1973, 1974), and Conversation for Flugelhorn and Alto Saxophone (1977).
His best-known work, Three Entertainments for Saxophone Quartet (1969, 1970), has been performed widely in North America and Europe, and was recorded by the New York Saxophone Quartet.
In 1979, CBC Radio broadcast a 90-minute documentary on his life and work called “Gordon Delamont: Taking the Notes Where They Want to Go.” The Faculty of Music library at the University of Toronto holds a collection of his jazz compositions, dance band arrangements and biographical materials. The musical rights of his estate are administered by CAPAC.
“Jazz composition: a minority report,” Music Across Canada, June 1963.
Modern Arranging Techniques (Delavan, NY 1965)
Modern Harmonic Techniques, 2 vols (Delavan, NY 1965)
Modern Contrapuntal Techniques (Delavan, NY 1969)
Modern Twelve-Tone Techniques (Delavan, NY 1973)
Modern Melodic Techniques (Delavan, NY 1976)
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.