York DeSouza

Biography by

A terrific jazz pianist, York De Souza appears on more than a dozen recordings made between 1938 and 1950. Following this period he seems to have dropped out of the picture, an artist whose status can…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

A terrific jazz pianist, York De Souza appears on more than a dozen recordings made between 1938 and 1950. Following this period he seems to have dropped out of the picture, an artist whose status can be considered not only obscure but rare. This is a matter of both race and style, as De Souza immigrated to England during a period when black jazz musicians were few and far between. In the '30s the swing styles that were sweeping the genre's floor were thus under-represented in England in terms of black performers. An anthology entitled Black British Swing on the Topic label presents pretty clear evidence of this just in the matter of the small number of musicians featured. Chestnuts such as "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Blue Skies" and "Stompin' at the Savoy" are among the pieces performed by a trio featuring the pianist in his somewhat regular company of bassist Tommy Bromley and guitarist Joe Deniz, one of the few players to bring the Hawaiian style lap guitar into this style.

The latter recordings are generally not where the listener discovers De Souza, however. Much more commonly heard are a series of sides cut with the great French guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose prolific recording activities and endless thirst for musical interaction led to collaborations with just about every worthy rhythm section player on the continet. Benny Carter's early recordings as a leader also involve this pianist. Carter assembled large groups in several locations including Den Haag and Paris; it was De Souza that got the call when the Carter express pulled into London.