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Clifford Jarvis was born on August 26, 1941 in Boston, Massachusetts and studied at Berklee College of Music in the 1950s. Moving to New York City, he established himself in jazz between 1959 and 1966 by recording with Chet Baker, Randy Weston, Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard, Barry Harris, Jackie McLean, and Elmo Hope, and playing with Grant Green and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

From 1962 to 1976 Jarvis performed and recorded with Sun Ra. He also played and recorded with Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Alice Coltrane, Kenny Drew, Walter Davis, Archie Shepp and recorded with organist John Patton on the Blue Note album That Certain Feeling in 1968.

By the 1980s Jarvis moved to London, England, where he played with emerging musicians such as Courtney Pine. He worked in music education at Chats Palace Arts Centre in London and was senior drum tutor at Pyramid Arts Development, Dalston, from 1984 to 1994.

Hard bop and free jazz drummer Clifford Jarvis was an educator and performer until his passing on November 26, 1999 in London.

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