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Zez Confrey

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Zez Confrey


Edward Elezear (Zez) Confrey (3 April 1895, Peru, Ill. – 22 November 1971, Lakewood, N.J.) was an American composer and pianist.

Aspiring to be a concert pianist, Confrey attended Chicago Musical College and studied with private teachers. He later abandoned that idea for composing, encouraged by his oldest brother, James J. Confrey, an organist. By 1916 he was a staff pianist for Witmarks in Chicago. He also enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1917.

After World War I, Confrey became a pianist and arranger for the QRS piano roll company. He also recorded for AMPICO's reproducing piano system, which was installed in upper-line pianos such as Mason & Hamlin and Chickering.

In 1921 Confrey wrote his novelty piano solo Kitten on the Keys, inspired by hearing his grandmother's cat walk on the keyboard of her piano. It became a hit, and he went on to compose many other pieces in the genre. Dizzy Fingers (1923) was Confrey's other biggest seller.

Following the 1920s, Confrey focused primarily on composing for jazz bands. He retired after World War II but continued to compose until 1959. He left behind more than a hundred piano works, songs and miniature operas, and numerous piano rolls, music publications and sound recordings.

Works for Winds