Drummer E.J. Strickland is currently a member of the long-lived quartet of Ravi Coltrane (along with Luis Perdomo & Drew Gress), and his brother Marcus Strickland’s celebrated electric/acoustic quartets & trio. He also leads his own bands, The E.J. Strickland Quintet & The E.J. Strickland Project. His playing has been described as emitting “fields of cumulative energy, clouds of feather-touch and heavy-handed syncopations, latent with power like an oncoming storm” (Thomas Conrad, Downbeat Magazine).
Enoch Jamal Strickland was born in Gainesville and raised in Miami, Florida. His father, a former percussionist for the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra and a jazz enthusiast, immersed E.J. and his twin bother Marcus with music from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, The Jazz Crusaders, Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Hendricks. Unsurprisingly, he chose to study music when he turned 11, and decided to pursue a career as a professional musician a year later.
He attended The New World School of the Arts (Miami) for high school, studying classical music as well as jazz. He found great influences in drummers like Elvin Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Brian Blade, and many, many others. After meeting Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis, and Bobby Watson at Miami clinics, the Strickland brothers decided to go to New York City to further pursue their studies and goals.
In 1997, E.J. attended The New School for Social Research, where he studied piano, polished his skills as a composer, and studied with some of the world’s greatest drummers: Joe Chambers, Michael Carvin, Carl Allen, Ralph Peterson, Lewis Nash, and Jimmy Cobb. He started to develop a sound when The Marcus Strickland Quartet was formed, adding classmates Robert Glasper and Brandon Owens. Before earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jazz Performance, he had already performed with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Nneenna Freelon, Abbey Lincoln, Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock, Wessell Anderson, and Dianne Reeves.
E.J. is also currently touring & performing with Cassandra Wilson, George Colligan quartet & trio, and the David Gilmore trio.