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Jeff Ballard

One of the top drummers on the jazz scene today, Jeff Ballard is currently a member of the Brad Mehldau Trio. Ballard grew up in Santa Cruz, California and frequently heard his father’s records, being particularly impressed by Count Basie, Ed Thigpen’s playing with the Oscar Peterson Trio and the percussion used on Milton Nascimento records. He studied music theory at Cabrillo Community College, was greatly inspired by Tony Williams, and gained experience playing in a wide variety of settings, including in San Francisco with a local big band, with Smith Dobson and Harvey Wainapel, and in other modern jazz combos. Ballard toured with Ray Charles for three years before settling in New York City in 1990. Soon he was greatly in demand, playing with other top young musicians including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner and Guillermo Klein and such veterans as Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, Lou Donaldson, Danilo Perez, Buddy Montgomery, Gary Burton and Mike Stern. He became adept at rhythms that originated in other countries, a skill that came in handy when he joined Chick Corea in 1999. During his six years performing regularly with Corea, Ballard worked in the sextet Origin, the New Trio (which also included Avishai Cohen), with symphonies and in all-star bands. Ballard still works with Corea now and then, is part of Joshua Redman’s Elastic Band, is a co-leader of Fly along with Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier, and tours with the Brad Mehldau Trio. He has also worked with Donny McCaslin, Frank Kimbrough, the Herbie Nichols Project, the Jazz Composers Collective, Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider, Steve Wilson, Joe Locke, Anthony Wilson and Claudia Acuna.