Gene Krupa was born Eugene Bertram Krupa on January 15, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. Originally groomed for the priesthood by his parents, he He spent his grammar school days at various parochial schools and upon graduation, attended Saint Joseph’s College for a year, but later decided it was not his vocation. He studied with Sanford A Moeller and began playing drums professionally in the mid-1920s with bands in Wisconsin.
Gene broke into the Chicago scene in 1927, when he was picked by MCA to become a member of Thelma Terry and Her Playboys, the first notable American Jazz band to be led by a female musician. The Playboys were the house band at The Golden Pumpkin nightclub in Chicago and also toured extensively throughout the eastern and central United States.
Making his first recordings in 1927 with a band under the leadership of guitarist Eddie Condon and Red McKenzie, Krupa recorded others on the Chicago scene such as Bix Beiderbecke. His big influences during this time were Tubby Hall, Zutty Singleton and Baby Dodds.
By 1934 he joined Benny Goodman’s band, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit “Sing, Sing, Sing” were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially. He made a cameo appearance in the 1941 film, Ball of Fire, in which he and his band performed an extended version of the hit Drum Drum Boogie, which he had composed with trumpeter Roy Eldridge. He also appeared in The Best Years Of Our Lives in 1946 during the waning years of the big band era.
1951 saw Gene leading a trio or quartet, appeared regularly with the Jazz At The Philharmonic band, never quite adjusted to be-bop, and by the end of the decade returned to Hollywood appearing in such films as The Glenn Miller Story, The Benny Goodman Story and had a biography starring Sal Mineo titled The Gene Krupa Story, featuring a cameo appearance by Red Nichols.
During the 1960s he played clubs in Washington, DC and New York but increasingly troubled by back pain, he retired in the late 1960s and opened a music school. He would give instruction to future KISS drummer Peter and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls. He occasionally played in public in the early 1970s until shortly before his death. Gene Krupa, big band drummer, band leader, actor and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style passed away on October 16, 1973.
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T. S. Monk was born Thelonious Sphere Monk, III on December 27, 1949 in New York City. He began his music career as a child when Max Roach gave him his first drum set before he turned 10. After graduating from school he joined his father’s trio touring with him until 1975. Leaving jazz for R&B, he toured with Natural Essence and then formed his own band with his sister.
By the 80s he was recording his debut album House of Music that charted several hits on Billboard, followed by the release of two more albums during the decade.
Shortly after his father died in 1982, in honor his father’s legacy and support the efforts of education, T. S. turned his attention toward forming the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As chairman, Monk has been at the forefront of helping to create a number of programs that range from sponsoring music education for students in the form of full scholarships to funding and supporting after-school athletic programs across the nation.
In the 1990s, Monk began his solo career taking a jazz-oriented direction and presented “A Celebration Of America’s Music” on ABC TV in 1996 and 1998 hosted by Bill Cosby and bringing together such artists as Natalie Cole, Jon Secada, Tony Bennett, k. d. lang, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Nnenna Freelon
T. S. has received the New York Jazz Awards First Annual “Recording of the Year” award and ‘Downbeat’s’ prestigious 63rd annual Album of the year Reader’s Choice Award for “Monk On Monk”. He continues in the tradition of creating great music as he performs, records and tours.
Butch Ballard was born George Edward Ballard on December 26, 1918 in Camden, New Jersey but grew up in Frankford, Pennsylvania. Following American Legion parades near his home, as a child he focused on the drummer and around 10 years old, his father bought him a set of drums. He took lessons for 75 cents each and continued his musical education Northeast High School in Philadelphia.
By 16 Ballard saw Herb Thorton, sat in and played and was invited to join a band by a man who heard him, and over the next few months rehearsed and played. In 1938, he started playing with Louis Armstrong’s band The Dukes, followed by stints with Cootie Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Pearl Bailey.
Butch served in the Navy during WWII, then went to New York and worked with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Vinson, Arnett Cobb and Clark Terry. He replaced Shadow Wilson in the Basie band in the late 1940s. The Fifties saw him touring Europe with the Ellington outfit and playing with Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Billy Strayhorn, Kay Davis and Wendell Marshall. He declined the invite to join permanently because he didn’t want to change his drumming style to suit Duke, though he did record with him on such tunes as Satin Doll.
By the Sixties he was back in Philadelphia leading his own band and over the course of his career worked with the likes of John Coltrane, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Cat Anderson, Fats Waller, Lucky Millinder, Bootsie Barnes and Mercer Ellington among others.
In his later years he became a music teacher and played with the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra and was honored with the Mellon Jazz Community Award for his continued education of young jazz musicians. Butch Ballard, who got the nickname after Machine Gun Butch, a character in the 1930 film The Big House, passed away on October 1, 2011.
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Michael Carvin was born December 12, 1944 in Houston, Texas. He began his drumming education at age six with his father, a top drummer in the city. By 12 he began playing professionally and won the first of five consecutive Texas rudimental championships.
By the Sixties he joined Earl Grant’s big band, then served a tour of duty during the Vietnam incursion. After his discharge he joined Freddie Hubbard in 1973, moved to New York and became a formidable drummer on the jazz scene. Carvin has worked with Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, McCoy Tyner, Abbey Lincoln, Johnny Hartman, Jimmy Smith, Alice Coltrane, Hampton Hawes, Mickey Bass, Charles Davis and Jackie McLean among numerous others.
In addition to being a sought after sideman Michael led his own groups and recording sessions for Muse and Steeplechase for more than three decades and has recorded over 250 albums over the course of his career. A prolific contributor to the contemporary jazz scene with outstanding technique and sensitive accompanying skills he has been a staff drummer at Motown Records and has performed extensively as a studio musician and in television.
As an educator he is a world-class clinician and teacher, attracting students from all over the U.S., Europe, South America, Australia, Japan and India to study at the Michael Carvin School of Drumming in New York, graduating the likes of Victor Jones, Ralph Peterson Jr., Woody Shaw III, Babatunde Lea and Nasheet Waits.
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Eddie Gladden was born on December 6, 1937 in Newark, New Jersey and became interested in drums before he was ten years old. He would bet on the furniture around the house until his mother bought him a drum set. He attended Newark’s Arts High School, majored in music, and eventually got into different groups.
As an up-and-comer, Gladden held down a few jobs outside music but by his early ’20s he was working professionally around Newark. He played jam sessions, gigged and recorded with Larry Young, Freddie Roach, Woody Shaw, Johnny Coles, Connie Lester and Buddy Terry. By 1972 he was touring with James Moody, then worked with Kenny Dorham, Jimmy McGriff, Shirley Scott, Richie Cole and Horace Silver prior to joining Dexter Gordon.
Performing, recording and touring worldwide with Gordon was Eddie’s crowning career achievement with performances on such classic albums as “Live at Carnegie Hall” and “Nights at the Keystone”. Suffering a stroke in 1988 he was sidelined from music and it took several years to recuperate but finally returning to play occasionally. His list of who’s who includes but not limited to Eddie Jefferson, Cecil Payne, David “Fathead” Newman, Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Kirk Lightsey, Clifford Jordan, Albert Dailey and Jimmy Ponder to name a few.
Eddie Gladden, the powerful, fiery and creative drummer who was easy to work with, passed away of a heart attack on September 30, 2003.
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