Thursday, July 10, 2008

R.I.P.: Bobby Durham

Bobby Durham, drummer
(born February 3, 1937, Philadelphia, USA;
died July 7, 2008, Genoa, Italy)
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10 jul. 2008 ... Bobby Durham, 71, Jazz Drummer Toured With Greats - July 10, 2008 - The New York - 7 horas atrás - Páginas Semelhantes

Bobby Durham, 71, Jazz Drummer Toured with Greats
by Will Friedwald
New York Sun, July 10, 2008

Bobby Durham, a jazz drummer known for his energetic, propulsive style, as well as for the high-flying musical company that he kept, died in Italy on Monday. He was 71, and had been ill with lung cancer and emphysema, a singer who had toured with him in Europe in recent years, Shawnn Monteiro, said.

Durham was practically the only contemporary drummer who worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and, most famously, Oscar Peterson, four legendary bandleaders who were famous the demands they made on their percussionists. Durham was the drummer of choice for nearly all the swing-styled soloists and leaders of the '60s and '70s up to the present day, and he also enjoyed a parallel career working in funky organ combos led by such keyboardists as Charles Earland, Shirley Scott, and Wild Bill Davis.

Born February 3, 1937, Durham was raised in the black music scene of the 1940s and 1950s in Philadelphia, a hotbed of jazz and R&B activity. As a child, he tap-danced and sang in addition to playing drums, and played in several high school bands. By age 16, Durham was touring with the pioneering doo-wop vocal quartet, The Orioles (who apparently recorded their biggest hit, was "Crying In The Chapel," in 1953, with Durham in the rhythm section). For most of the rest of the '50s, he served in the American military (in various service bands) and worked on the R&B circuit.

After his stint in the service, the drummer relocated to New York, at which point he began both gigging and recording with swing and blues-styled instrumentalists. Durham participated in his first jazz record date ("The Burner") in 1963 with blues-based tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, and he served as drummer for the hard-swinging organist Bill Davis. He appeared with Davis on a famous album, taped live in Atlantic City, with Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's alto sax player, and this led to a stint with the Ellington Orchestra itself in 1967.

A few months later, Durham began the first of several stints with Oscar Peterson, and can be heard on live and studio dates with the legendary pianist over a five-year period. For most of the 1970s he toured as part of the last great trio to accompany Ella Fitzgerald, alongside pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Keeter Betts. In these years, Durham served as a virtual "house drummer" for producer Norman Granz's Pablo records. He can be heard on dates with Monty Alexander, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Al Grey, Roy Eldridge, Howard McGhee, Clark Terry, Dorothy Donegan, Jimmy Rowles, and many others. Durham rejoined Peterson in the early 1990s for a classic series of live recordings "At The Blue Note" with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis.

For most of the last 20 years, the drummer became well known for maintaining a dual lifestyle in both Europe and America. Based in Italy and Switzerland, he worked extensively on both continents with visiting leaders, as well as with his own groups, which generally featured the best of European jazzmen. One of the drummer's final gigs was a rare jazz date in Dubai in June.

Durham recorded only one album as a leader, a 1979 trio LP on the French Black and Blue label with pianist Gerald Price. With his own groups, he was known to step out more as an entertainer and vocalist. According to writer Eugene Chadbourne, "European concert listeners have remarked on the entertaining number entitled the 'Airplane Song,' supposedly based on the printed safety instructions handed out to passengers."
Versatile Jazz, R&B Drummer Bobby Durham, 71
by Adam Bernstein
Washington Post, July 10, 2008

Bobby Durham, 71, a jazz drummer of impeccable taste and versatility who teamed with Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald and became a fixture of the Jazz at the Philharmonic touring concert series, died July 7 at a hospital in Genoa, Italy. He had lung cancer and emphysema.

His death was confirmed by Sandra Fuller, a family friend.

Mr. Durham's personality on drums ranged from exuberant to unobtrusive. John S. Wilson, the late New York Times jazz critic, noted his "remarkable displays of technical virtuosity" in a 1968 concert with Peterson, a pianist known for his understated swing.

Norman Granz, the impresario behind Jazz at the Philharmonic, became an admirer of Mr. Durham's skills and used him frequently as a supporting studio and stage musician for a wide variety of star performers from the 1960s to the '80s.

In the 1970s, he also spent several years in small groups fronted by singer Fitzgerald and pianists Monty Alexander and Tommy Flanagan as well as one led by trombonist Al Grey and saxophonist Jimmy Forrest.

Robert Joseph Durham was born Feb. 3, 1937, in Philadelphia, the son of tap dancers.

He learned trombone, bass and vibraphone before concentrating on a drumming career in rhythm and blues groups after Marine Corps service in the late 1950s. In later years, he developed a talent for improvised singing known as scat.

After settling in New York in 1960, he accompanied jazz, R&B and soul entertainers, including Marvin Gaye and James Brown. In 1967, he began working in Duke Ellington's band but quickly become an integral part of Peterson's trio.

Starting in the 1980s, Mr. Durham began an active freelance career and performed with organist Shirley Scott, among other jazz stars. He also reunited with Peterson in the late 1980s, playing in a trio with the pianist and bassist Ray Brown that received high praise.

Jazz critic Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the group acquitted itself "with the precision of a fine-tooled Swiss watch."

Mr. Durham, a small man fond of kufi caps, made many trips to Europe leading trios and recording several albums for an independent Italian music label, Azzurra. He spent the final years of his life between homes in Basel, Switzerland, and Isola del Cantone, near Genoa.

The music reference Web site wrote that one of his greatest successes with audiences was a piece he called "Airplane Song" based on the safety instructions handed out to passengers.

His wife, Betsy Perkins Durham, died in 1996. Two children preceded him in death.
Survivors include two daughters and four grandchildren.

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