Jazz drummer Billy Drummond was born Willis Robert Drummond, Jr. on June 19, 1959 in Newport News, Virginia. From an early age he learned jazz from his father, who was also a drummer and a jazz enthusiast and whose record collection included many recordings of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Buddy Rich and Elvin Jones, among others.
Billy played in bands from age eight and studied at Shenandoah Conservatory. At the behest of Al Foster he moved to New York in 1986 and shortly thereafter joined the Blue Note band, Out of the Blue (OTB) with whom he recorded their last CD. He subsequently joined the Horace Silver sextet and toured extensively.
Drummond has played and recorded with Nat Adderley, Ralph Moore, Buster Williams, Charles Tolliver, Lew Tabackin and Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, James Moody, Sonny Rollins, Andy LaVerne, Lee Konitz, Larry Willis, Toots Thielemans and Freddie Hubbard among others greats.
Billy’s influences include a long list besides Tony Williams, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Al Foster, Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart. His discography includes three albums as a leader, another five as a co-leader, fifteen as a band member with Carla Bley and Steve Kuhn, and sixty-six as a sideman.
He is currently a long-time member of Carla Bley’s Lost Chords Quartet, leads the New York-based band “Freedom of Ideas” in addition to touring, and is Professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School of Music and New York University in New York.
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Chuck Rainey was born Charles Walter Rainey III on June 17, 1940 in Cleveland, Ohio. His youthful pursuits included violin, piano and trumpet but switched to baritone horn in order to join the Lane College traveling ensemble while matriculating. But it was while on active military duty that he learned the rhythm guitar, however, his lack of improvisational skills led him to pick up the bass. He soon found steady work as a studio bassist in New York, recording and touring with many of the greats of the time.
Through the 1970s he played with Jerome Richardson, Grady Tate, Mose Allison, Gato Barbieri, Gene Ammons and Eddie Vinson. He was a member of the King Curtis All Stars, toured with the Beatles second U.S. run and had firmly established himself as New York City’s “first call” session bass guitarist.
In 1972, he released his first solo album “The Chuck Rainey Coalition” consisting of notable session musicians Richard Tee, Warren Smith, Specs Powell, Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, Herb Lovelle, Cornell Dupree and Billy Butler. He moved to Los Angeles that same year working with Quincy Jones and his big band but continued as a studio musician playing for Betty Davis, Steely Dan and Aretha Franklin.
Rainey’s style has always been to provide a rhythmic and melodic bottom that works with the drummer for the benefit of the song. His books on bass study refer to ”sensitivity to music” and a dedication to studying the fundamentals of music theory. While his “sideman” philosophy of bass has not brought him the level of recognition of star players such as Jaco Pastorious, Rainey is by far more recorded than his more famous contemporaries.
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Kenny Drew, Jr. was born on June 14, 1958 in New York City is the son of jazz pianist Kenny Drew. His initial study was in classical music with his mother and grandmother. In his teens he gigged in clubs became interested in jazz and pop, but initially worked in funk bands. Kenny attended Iona College in New Rochelle, NY for a spell from 1977 to 1978. There, he became pianist for the Iona College Singers, an entertainment troop promoting the College’s name and goodwill among local high schools, retirement homes and the like in the Northeast region of the USA.
Later he went into jazz piano and in 1990 Kenny won the Great American Jazz Piano competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida. He has continued to perform jazz, but has also performed some chamber music. He made his recording debut with Charnett Moffet, worked with Stanley Jordan and OTB, and recorded with Eddie Gomez, Sadao Watanabe and the Mingus Big Band.
Although his style has some similarities to his father’s, but is different enough to generally avoid comparison. Drew is considered the more eclectic of the two and his music is known for its hard-swinging bluesy sound and large, two-handed rooty chords contrasting with fast runs. His style is said to be similar to that of his father and Oscar Peterson. He currently has some 17 albums under his name as a leader and continues to perform.
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Marcus Belgrave was born June 12, 1936 in Chester, Pennsylvania and was tutored on trumpet by Clifford Brown when he was 17. Belgrave toured with Ray Charles from 1954-59 and later played with Charles Mingus and Max Roach.
In 1963 Marcus moved to Detroit and established himself as an educator and studio musician. He has recorded with Motown and Blue Note Record labels, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and a host of other luminaries in jazz.
His reputation as a clinician and instructor has led Marcus to cultivate young jazz talent over the years like Regina Carter, Rodney Whitaker, Kenny Garrett, James Carter, Geri Allen, Bob Hurst, Carlos McKinney and Karriem Riggins.
In 2006 he lent his expertise to the Young Musicians Program (YMP) summer program at the University of California Berkeley helping out student with coaching and private lessons. Belgrave is a frequent faculty member at Stanford Jazz Workshop and is currently visiting professor of jazz trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory.
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Hazel Dorothy Scott was born on June 11, 1920 in Port of Spain, Trinidad but was raised in New York City from age four. Performing extensively as a child pianist, she trained at Julliard and appeared in the 1942 production of Priorities and performed numerous times at Carnegie Hall.
A jazz and classical pianist and singer, Scott was known for improvising on classical themes and also played boogie-woogie, blues, and ballads. She was the first woman of color to have her own television series “The Hazel Scott Show” that premiered on the Dumont Television Network on July 3, 1950. However, due to her public opposition to McCarthyism and racial segregation the show was canceled in 1950 when she was accused of being a Communist sympathizer; the final broadcast was September 29, 1950.
The talented Hazel went on to have a brief motion picture career included films Something To Shout About, I Dood It, Broadway Rhythm, The Heat’s On and Rhapsody In Blue. Her album Relaxed Piano Moods on the Debut Record label with Charles Mingus and Max Roach is the album critics hold in high regard.
She married U.S. Congressman Adam Clayton Jr., a union that lasted from 1945 to 1956 and produced one child, Adam III. Pianist and vocalist Hazel Scott passed away of pancreatic cancer in New York City on October 2, 1981. She was 61 years old.