One of the most influential musicians in Jazz, Pontiac born drummer, Elvin Jones (9/9/27-5/18/04) is best known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet 1960-1966.
Rhythm is inherent in all music containing two or more notes. And, generally speaking, rhythm itself is a defining, essential ingredient in Jazz. Many times it’s the characteristic rhythmic patterns of the genre that tells we’re listening to Jazz. Quite often these patterns reflect various dance styles.
The patterns follow Jazz’s evolution through its use of drums and percussion in corresponding rhythmic styles in everything from Ragtime and Dixieland of the early 20th century up through the Swing, Bebop, Latin Jazz, Free and experimental Jazz, Fusion and all of the other styles Jazz has developed in the last 100+ years. Each style has its own rhythmic, and therefore, drumming and percussion style.
Of course there are other factors that define these styles such as instrumentation and compositional structure, but rhythms seems to top the list with their prominence and immediate and physical affect on the listener- especially in Jazz.
Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first, especially when it’s prominent and played on percussive instruments. Rhythms in other genres, such as some Classical and American folk music, support the melodic or harmonic elements but are less prominent and not heard “up front” as they can be in Jazz.
In the beginning Jazz drumming reflected the early places the music got it start such as New Orleans and other American cities, as well as influences from the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere.
Drums and percussion have been essential in Jazz instrumentation since the very beginning and continue to be part of most combos or three or more musicians to this day.
Detroit has had its share of legendary drummers, with a long list that covers many decades and includes such luminaries and style makers such as Elvin Jones, Roy Brooks, Louis Hayes, J.C. Heard, Don Moye, Ali Jackson, Pheeroan akLaff, Frank Isola, Art Mardigan,and others.
Detroit born drummer Roy Brooks (3/9/38-11/15/05) performing a tribute to Miles Davisat the 1991 Detroit Jazz Festival. This powerful drummer played with everyone from Yusef Lateef and Barry Harris to Horace Silver and Max Roach.
Some current Detroit drummers who’ve made their mark include Nate Winn, Karriem Riggins, Gayelynn McKinney, Leonard King, Alex White, Djallo Djakate, Mahindi Masai, Renell Gonzalves, Jessie Kramer, Gerald Cleaver, Skeeto Valdez, and Sean Dobbins who performs with his band at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe from Wednesday April 5th through Saturday, April 8th.
Prolific, drummer, educator, and Kresge Arts Fellow, Gayelynn McKinney, is part of the legendary Detroit musical McKinney family and is the daughter of the late pianist and composer, Harold McKinney. The above photo was taken at Bert’s Marketplace with pianist Bill Meyer and Ralph Armstrong on bass.
Drummer Alex White with James Carter
Drummer and educator, Sean Dobbins, at the Dirty Dog with Diego Rivera, saxophone, Michael Dease, trombone,Corey Kendrick, piano, Marion Hayden, bass.
Detroit Music Factory recording artist, Sean Dobbins, is one of the most sought after drummers of choice performing today. He’s performed with such Jazz notables as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Johnny O’Neal, Cyrus Chestnut, James “Blood” Ulmer, and many others.
He’s also one of the top Jazz educators in this region and is on the faculties at the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University. He also serves as the Artistic Director of Jazz Ensembles for the Detroit Symphony and is the Executive Artistic Director of the South Eastern Music Academy.
Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist