(b Mendenhall, MS, Feb 14, 1922; d Braxton, MS, Jan 28, 1996). American drummer. Smedley, her surname from a first marriage, appears on a 1946 passenger list; the Social Security Applications and Claims Index documents that she became Pauline Williams in 1954. Her family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, when she was a child, and she attended the nearby Piney Woods School, where in 1939 she joined the Sweethearts of Rhythm. She was with the band when it severed its connections with the school in April 1941, after which it became the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Braddy participated in the band’s USO tour of Europe in 1945 and remained a member until 1949, when she joined Vi Burnside’s new group. In the early 1950s she played alongside Carline Ray in the trio led by the pianist Edna Smith. She continued to work with small groups around New York until the late 1960s, when she moved to Washington, DC, and gave up playing to work as a receptionist and switchboard operator. However, she did perform at the reunion of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm in Kansas City in ...
[Columbo, “Crazy” Chris; Morris, Joe; Morris, Joseph Christopher Columbus]
(b Greenville, NC, June 17, 1902; d Atlantic City, NJ, Aug 20 2002). American drummer and bandleader, father of Sonny Payne. His first job was in Atlantic City with Fletcher Henderson in 1921. He was active as a leader from the 1930s into the 1950s and his band was resident for a time at the Savoy Ballroom, New York. In 1943 he was a member of Al Sears’s band and from 1946 to 1952 he played regularly with Louis Jordan; he may be seen with Jordan’s group in the films Reet, Petite and Gone (1947) and Look Out, Sister (1948). Concurrently from around 1944 he began leading bands at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, a job that continued intermittently until the club closed in 1978. In the 1950s and early 1960s he worked mainly in Wild Bill Davis’s trio; he then accompanied the singer Damita Jo and was briefly with Duke Ellington (...
(b Los Angeles, CA, April 2, 1953). American taiko artist. Of Japanese American descent, he studied drumming, especially jazz and rock, from an early age. He first experienced taiko in the early 1970s and joined Kinnara Taiko in 1975. His interest in taiko was fueled by an emergent sense of his ethnic identity. He went on to study with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1976. Endo felt that it was important to emphasize the Asian aspects of his heritage, and to this end he traveled to Japan in 1980. For the next decade he studied kumi daiko (ensemble drumming), hogaku hayashi (classical drumming), and matsuri bayashi (festival drumming), and he became the first non-native to receive a natori (stage name), Mochizuki Tajiro, in hogaku hayashi. While in Japan, he studied with and was a performing member of Oedo Sukeroku Taiko and Osuwa Daiko. He moved to Honolulu in ...
(b ?New York, NY, March 25, 1966). American rock drummer and session musician. Ferrer was raised in New York City. His father was a Latin percussionist who emigrated from Cuba in 1957. Ferrer grew up listening to Cuban music and Elvis Presley, but abruptly changed musical tastes after attending a concert by the heavy metal band KISS. Other glam, metal, and hard rock bands, such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Cheap Trick, formed the crux of his early influences.
Ferrer first recorded in 1990 with the band The Beautiful. In 1992 he joined the band Love Spit Love, which was led by guitarist Richard Fortus (formerly of the band Psychedelic Furs). Ferrer and Fortus have continued to work together in Love Spit Love and the band Honkey Toast, as well as in a reunited lineup of Psychedelic Furs that formed in 2000. Ferrer has also performed and recorded with other artists, including Robi “Draco” Rosa (formerly of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo)....
(b Pueblo Nuevo, Matanzas, Cuba, 1931). American cuban drummer, craftsman, and instrument maker. He descended from Lucumí, Kongo, Abakwá, and rumba musicians, and learned each of these Afro-Cuban performance traditions. At five he inherited a set of batá drums, and ten years later he was performing in Lucumí ceremonies. In 1946 he was invited to play congas for Rafael Somavilla’s jazz band, and he continued to perform as a ceremonial and stage musician throughout the 1950s. After the socialist revolution in 1959, García Villamil worked in the sugar industry in Sancti Spíritus province. During the 1960s he also performed dance music for the government-run Juntas Unificadas de Coordinación Económica. In 1970 he formed the folkloric performance group Emikeké. During the Mariel Boatlift in 1980, he migrated to the United States. He settled in New York, where he directed the folkloric group Tradición Matancera and revived Emikeké. With the latter he performed at the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum for African Art in New York, among other venues. In ...
(b Los Angeles, Sept 21, 1921; d New York, Nov 25, 2013). American jazz drummer, bandleader, and commercial composer. He toured with Lionel Hampton and Lester Young, among others (1940–41), before serving in the US Army. From 1948 to 1955 he regularly accompanied Lena Horne and in 1952 he played in Gerry Mulligan’s original pianoless quartet. In 1955 Hamilton founded the first of a series of quintets which introduced such emerging jazz musicians as Eric Dolphy, Ron Carter, Jim Hall, and Charles Lloyd. The groups’ innovative instrumentation—winds, cello, guitar, double bass, and drums—and soft, controlled sounds became, by jazz standards, extremely popular; their performances were captured on film in The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1958). From 1960 Hamilton’s quintet adopted a gutsy blues and swing style, and Hamilton subsequently replaced the cello with a trumpet and then a trombone. In ...
Wendy F. Hsu
(b Taipei, Taiwan, Dec 15, 1973). Rock musician and songwriter of Taiwanese birth. Hsu moved to Houston, Texas, with his family in 1989. His brother, Kevin Hsu, was a pop star in Taiwan who signed to Golden Point/BMG. Self-taught in guitar, keyboards, voice, and drums, Hsu formed in 2001 the alternative rock band Johnny Hi-Fi, which has toured extensively in the United States and Asia. As a songwriter Hsu writes songs in both English and Mandarin Chinese. He has collaborated with Taiwanese recording artists and producers and has had success overseas. His song titled “Don’t Go,” performed by Richie Ren, reached the top 10 pop music chart in Taiwan. Hsu also has toured with Taiwanese rock musician Chang Chen-Yue on his US tour in 2004.
In 2004 Hsu began organizing the Asian Rock Fest in recognition of Asian American Heritage Month in May. An annual festival series, Asian Rock Fest has brought together Asian American artists and showcased rock music talent including Eyes Like Knives, Kite Operations, Carol Bui, Burning Tree Project, Festizio, Vudoo Soul, Jack Tung, and Johnny Hi-Fi. The first Asian Rock Fest took place at The Pianos in New York. The festival continued to feature Asian American musicians after Hsu’s relocation to the west coast in ...
(b Bombay [now Mumbai], India, March 9, 1951). Percussionist and tabla player of Indian birth. Hussain began studying music at the age of three with his father, the late Ustad Alla Rakha. He presented his debut performance in Bombay at age 15, providing tabla accompaniment for the master of the Indian santur, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. Hussain’s rise to fame was rapid and sustained, leading to international renown after he traveled to the United States in 1970. His first US public performance came as accompanist to Pandit Ravi Shankar. By age 20 he had become one of the most sought-after tabla accompanists; his virtuosic playing also led to collaborations with popular musicians such as drummer Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead and guitarist John MacLaughlin, whose Mahavishnu Orchestra had fused elements of Indian classical music with rock and jazz. Hussain stands out for his work in creating fusions of Indian music with Western popular idioms, a practice that has grown into a major stream of activity for a large number of Indian musicians. The first of these efforts to receive widespread recognition was Shakti, a group consisting of MacLaughlin, violinist L. Shankar, and South Indian percussionists Ramnad Raghavan and T.H. “Tikku” Vinayakram. While Shakti retained acoustic instrumentation, Hussain’s later fusion projects such as ...
(b Anaheim, CA, Nov 15, 1970). American jazz percussionist and composer. Of Filipino heritage, Ibarra grew up in Houston, Texas. She received a music diploma from Mannes College and a BA from Goddard College. She studied drums with Buster Smith and Vernel Fournier and percussion with Milford Graves. She also played with William Parker and his big band, The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. In the 1990s, Ibarra became interested in Philippine musical traditions and took lessons on kulintang from master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. She joined the avant-garde free jazz quartet led by David S. Ware and became well known in the New York jazz scene. She collaborated on several albums with a number of respected musicians such as Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Charles Burnham, Chris Speed, Wadada Leo Smith, and Pauline Oliveros, notably on the album ...
Member of Marsalis family (jazz)
(b New Orleans, March 4, 1977). Drummer, son of Ellis Marsalis. He took violin lessons and played drums on a casual basis before studying percussion seriously; while in his teens he led his own quartet. From 1991 to 1998 he worked regularly with his father’s trio, and during the same period he performed and recorded with his brother Delfeayo Marsalis (1991–3) and Edward Petersen (1993–4). In autumn 1994 he began what became a long-lasting relationship with Marcus Roberts that included tours and recordings. In addition he recorded with Marcus Printup and the saxophonist Harold Battiste (1996) and worked briefly and recorded with Marlon Jordan (1997). In 1997–8 he was a member of a fusion band, Neslort, led by the trombonist Rick Trolsen, and from 1998 he performed and recorded alongside the percussionist Bill Summers under the leadership of the trumpet player Irvin Mayfield in Los Hombres Calientes. In the same year he formed his own quintet and recorded as a leader. Marsalis may be seen in the German and English video documentary ...
(b Philadelphia, PA, March 25, 1931; d New York, NY, Nov 22, 2011). American jazz drummer and composer. He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, where he began playing guitar and drums at the age of 12. During the Korean War he studied at the Navy School of Music in Washington before being stationed in Brooklyn from November 1953. After his discharge in September 1954 he moved to New York, entered the Manhattan School of Music and took private lessons on drums and timpani. In the mid- to late 1950s he accompanied various musicians, including Tony Scott, Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford (in both his quintet and big band), Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. In 1956 Motian began collaborating with Bill Evans, appearing on the pianist’s first album. Subsequently he was the drummer in Evans’s first and second trios (1959–64). He continued his career as an experienced drummer of piano trios, first with Paul Bley’s group (...
(b Phoenix, AZ, Dec 30, 1958). American drummer. He developed an early interest in music and began playing drums at age ten. By his late teens he was performing locally with small jazz ensembles and had garnered invaluable experience as a sideman for Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Red Garland, Lee Konitz, and Slide Hampton. He moved to New York with hopes of procuring steady work and soon joined Betty Carter and her trio (1981); his four-year association with the singer included international tours and collaboration on her Grammy Award winning album, Look What I Got! (1988). His versatility attracted other top-flight musicians such as bass player Ron Carter, who featured him on several recordings and within the context of varied ensembles. Nash remained active throughout the 1980s, supporting the work of Branford Marsalis, J.J. Johnson, Willie Nelson, and Natalie Cole, among others. He has made a number of albums as a leader including his first, ...
John L. Clark Jr.
(b Chicago, IL, June 22, 1903; d Palm Springs, CA, June 7, 1971). American jazz drummer and bandleader. Born into a wealthy family, he began playing drums and was hired by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, with whom he played and recorded in 1923. While with this band he became known as perhaps the best white drummer in the style and influenced the next generation of players, including Dave Tough and Gene Krupa.
After a year on the West Coast with the Harry Bastin band, he took over Bastin’s group in 1925. For the next 15 years Pollack led big bands, primarily in Chicago and New York, before settling in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. His first band included such later jazz worthies as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Glenn Miller.
By the early 1930s Pollack had replaced his early stars with younger musicians. His affair with singer Doris Robbins caused friction in the new band and most of the musicians left to form a cooperative group later fronted by Bob Crosby. Pollack again reformed, using other young musicians including Harry James and Irving Fazola....
Gareth Dylan Smith
[Charles D. ]
(b New York, NY, Dec 15, 1931; d New York, NY, March 16, 1988). American jazz drummer. He is widely acknowledged as one of the great, if underappreciated, jazz drummers, developing a new vocabulary on the instrument in the early 1960s along with Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell. He came to fame in the explorative, pioneering, and avant-garde band of bassist Charles Mingus, which he joined in 1956 after upstaging Mingus’s then-drummer Willie Jones at a jam session. The new vitality and energy that he brought to the band was evident from his recording debut, The Clown (1957), and is perhaps exemplified on Mingus’s most popular album, Mingus Ah Um (1959). Prior to joining Mingus on drums, Richmond had studied reeds, piano, and percussion at the Music Center Conservatory in Brooklyn, and had worked as a tenor saxophonist on tour with Paul Williams, among others....
(b Savannah, GA, July 17, 1933). American jazz drummer. Riley moved to New York at age four and as a teenager began music studies with Cecil Scott, in whose band he also played. After returning to Harlem following his service as a member of the 187th Airborne band (1951–2) he joined the second wave of New York bebop players, working regularly with Randy Weston and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, first at Minton’s and then from 1960 as a member of his two-tenor quintet with Johnny Griffin. Subsequently he became a busy sideman, performing with Sonny Rollins (appearing on the classic The Bridge), among others. He became a favorite of piano players including Ahmad Jamal, Billy Taylor, and Ray Bryant, for his tasteful, sympathetic swing. After three weeks opening for Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot, playing with Bobby Timmons, Junior Mance, and Walter Bishop, Jr., Monk asked him to play on ...
[Granville William ]
(b Miami, FL, Sept 3, 1932). American jazz drummer. Roker moved to Philadelphia at age ten and was introduced to music in school bands and local drum and bugle corps, in which he played by ear. Formal studies began at age 23, following service in the US Army from 1952 to 1955. He began playing jazz in Philadelphia with Sam Reed in 1956, worked with Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Oliver, and Johnny Coles, and met Kenny Barron, McCoy Tyner, and Reggie Workman in local jam sessions.
With the encouragement of Workman, Roker moved to New York in 1959, playing for two years and recording three albums with Gigi Gryce. His next long-term engagements were in the trios of Ray Bryant and Junior Mance. Preferring to stay in New York rather than travel, Roker joined Mary Lou Williams, working steadily at the Hickory House in the mid-1960s. Concurrently he collaborated with Duke Pearson in both a big band and small groups and appeared on numerous recordings for various labels, including Blue Note....
J. Bradford Robinson
[Dav(e)y; David Jaffray]
(b Oak Park, IL, April 26, 1907; d Newark, NJ, Dec 9, 1948). American jazz drummer. As a member of the Austin High School Gang in the mid-1920s he had a formative influence on Chicago-style jazz. In the late 1920s he toured Europe, where he made his first recordings in Berlin (1927), and took part in numerous recording sessions with Eddie Condon, Red Nichols, and others in New York. Incapacitated, mainly by alcoholism, from 1929 to 1935, he then joined Tommy Dorsey’s big band (1936–7), replaced Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Orchestra (1938), then rejoined Dorsey (1939). He was a leading drummer of the swing period. Two prominent features of his playing with Dorsey—his ride patterns on Chinese cymbal (and later on large Turkish cymbal) and his irregular bass drum figures—were far in advance of their time, becoming widespread only in the bop style of the 1940s. He also adapted to the progressive big band style as a member of Woody Herman’s first “Herd” (...
Matthew Alan Thomas
(b Pittsburgh, PA, Jan 20, 1960). American percussionist. He began playing snare drum at nine years old and performed with the Pittsburgh Youth SO as a teenager. He studied classical percussion at Duquesne University before transferring to Berklee College of Music, where he met Kevin Eubanks, Branford Marsalis, and Wallace Roney. He frequently performed on vibraphone as a Berklee student and played with Marvin “Smitty” Smith in the school’s fusion ensemble. Watts recorded and toured regularly with Wynton Marsalis’s quintet (1982–8). His acting debut came when he was invited to play the role of fictional drummer Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee’s film Mo’ Better Blues (1990).
Watts collaborated with pianist Kenny Kirkland and bassist Charles Fambrough on his first album as bandleader Megawatts (1991, Sunnyside). After making several recordings with Branford Marsalis, Watts moved to Los Angeles to play with Branford in the Tonight Show Band (...