Kay, Connie [Conrad] (Henry Kirnon )
- Wolfram Knauer
(Henry Kirnon )
(b Tuckahoe, NY, April 27, 1927; d New York, NY, Nov 30, 1994). American jazz drummer. Kay, who had piano lessons from age six, but was mostly self-taught on drums, began his professional career in 1939. He played at Minton’s Playhouse in New York in 1944–5 with Sir Charles Thompson and Miles Davis, and toured in a rhythm-and-blues show throughout the late 1940s. In the early 1950s Kay worked as a studio musician, recording and performing with Cat Anderson, Milt Jackson, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, and especially Lester Young. He also played in small groups led by Beryl Booker, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker. In February 1955 he replaced Kenny Clarke in the Modern Jazz Quartet, the and stayed until it formally broke up in 1974, also participating in subsequent re-formations of the MJQ after 1981. Kay was influenced by drummers such as Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Chick Webb, and Big Sid Catlett, but he did not favor drum solos; in the MJQ he served as a fully integrated part of the quartet’s concept. During the MJQ’s annual summer breaks from performance Kay recorded with Randy Weston, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley, and many others. After the MJQ disbanded Kay played with Benny Goodman as well as the group ...