Ethel Jean Kittrell

Born: June 27, 1927, Birmingham, AL

She was billed as "Jazzie Jeanie" In 1957 through 1959, she worked with the Chesapeake Bay Jazz Band. She toured with the Chicago Stompers working clubs and concerts throughout Europe in 1959. She continued on with the Stompers working the Red Arrow Club in Chicago in '59 and '60. She appeared on ST. LOUIS JAZZ, on CBS-TV in 1967, and made frequent other TV and radio appearances. In the late 60's and into the 70's, Kittrell played a variety of venues, including a tour of Japan.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Jean Kittrell

Jean  Kittrell,  was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where she  grew up playing piano in the Southern Baptist Church. At  Blue Mountain College, Mississippi, she majored in music  theory which she turned into a career in 1957 in Norfolk,  Virginia, where she and her then husband, cornetist Ed  Kittrell organized the Chesapeake Bay Jass Band. In 1958  they moved to Chicago, joined the Chicago Stompers, and took  them on tour to Germany in 1959. Then she dropped out of  jazz until 1967, when she began a two-year SRO solo  engagment in St. Louis at the Old Levee House on Laclede''s  Landing. She resigned this gig to finish her PH.D in 20th  Century British Literature. After 35 years of teaching at  Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and at  Edwardsville, where she chaired the Department of English  for four years while playing weekends aboard the Lt.  Robert E. Lee Restaurant and Saloon in St. Louis, she is  now Professor Emerita of Literature. She is busier than  ever, leading three bands--the JAZZ INCREDI






Jean Kittrell has long been both a confident vocalist inspired by Bessie Smith and an excellent stride and swing pianist. She played piano as a youth in church where she also used to sing hymns solo. Kittrell majored in music theory at Blue Mountain College in Mississippi. However she did not start her career as a jazz performer until she was 30 in 1957. She began by accompanying her husband trumpeter Ed Kittrell. They organized and led the Chesapeake Bay Jass Band in Norfolk, VA. Kittrell also began to sing during this era. In 1958, the Kittrells moved to Chicago where they became members of the Chicago Stompers. They toured Germany in 1959. She mostly played locally through the years, performing as a solo singer-pianist on the St. Louis waterfront at the Old Levee House during 1967-1969.

Kittrell has also had an important career as an educator. She earned a PhD in 20th century British Literature at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1973 and taught at SIU-Edwardsville for ten years. She has balanced her two careers, teaching at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville for 25 years while playing weekends aboard the Lt. Robert E. Lee Restaurant and Saloon in St. Louis. During 1972-1974 Jean Kittrell worked and recorded with the Mississippi Mudcats Jazz Band and the Boll Weevil Jass Band. Since the mid-'70s she has led three separate bands: the Jazz Incredibles, the St. Louis Rivermen and the OSLLB (Old St. Louis Levee Band). Kittrell has performed extensively in the Midwest at concerts, festivals, and on cruises. She recorded with clarinetist Tony Parenti (a set of Bessie Smith songs in 1967) and performed with Johnny Wiggs, Danny Barker, Doc Evans, George Brunies and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In addition to her work for private labels, she has recorded for Jazzology, GHB, and Fat Cat's Jazz. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi


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