Although his name might not be a familiar one to casual jazz fans, British musical prodigy Victor Feldman was a much-respected instrumentalist for many years. His career encompassed everything from playing drums for Glenn Miller (at age 10!) to heading up ground-breaking jazz groups of his own. Along the way he appeared alongside many of the greatest names in jazz.
It all started in wartime London. Feldman’s father had founded the Feldman Swing Club, and young Victor was playing drums on stage with his brothers when he was just seven. He gained quite a bit of fame as a child prodigy, and even appeared in a couple of movies. In 1944 he was featured for a while with Glenn Miller’s wartime band, billed as ‘Kid Krupa’ in recognition of his drumming skills.
But Feldman was more than a drummer. As he grew to adulthood he also became proficient at vibes and eventually piano (which would become his dominant instrument in later years). By the 1950s he’d built his resume by working with popular British bandleader Ronnie Scott and had even led his own group for a while. The next step was to take his talents to the US.
Feldman was much in demand as both a session musician and as part of various combos. He appeared with just about every big name in jazz, including Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Cannonball Adderley, George Shearing, and Miles Davis. As the years passed, he also worked with modern acts like Steely Dan, Tom Waits, and Frank Zappa, and he made a number of good albums leading various groups of his own — in later years including his talented son, Trevor. When Feldman died from complications of asthma in 1987 he was just 53.