Artist Catalog

Leonard Ware

Born: December 28 1909

Leonard Ware

Leonard Ware (December 28, 1909 – March 30, 1974) was an American jazz guitar player and composer, who was one of the early electric guitarists in jazz.

Ware was born in Richmond, Virginia and attended Tuskegee Institute in his youth, where he learned to play oboe. He switched to guitar and began leading his own trio, which performed in New York's Greenwich Village during the 1930s and 1940s.

Ware played on clarinetist/saxophonist Sidney Bechet's first recordings as leader in November 1938 for the Vocalion label ("What a Dream", "Jungle Drums"). Soon after, Bechet teamed Ware with fellow guitarist Jimmy Shirley, making the group perhaps the first to include two electric guitars. Besides his work with Bechet, Ware also recorded with Buddy Johnson, Don Byas, Big Joe Turner, and Albinia Jones. In December 1938, he played at Carnegie Hall with the Kansas City Six (Lester Young and Buck Clayton); in 1939 he recorded with Benny Goodman ("Umbrella Man").

Ware was the co-composer of "Hold Tight" (which he recorded with Bechet) and "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem" (with Jerry Gray and Buddy Feyne), which was covered by Glenn Miller and The Delta Rhythm Boys in 1944. He recorded as a leader in 1947; shortly thereafter, he quit the music industry and worked at the postal service. He died in 1974.

The guitarist should not be confused with the blues bassist of the same name, who played with Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson II.