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Before & After: Leon Parker

The reclusive drummer worships Monk and praises Baby Dodds but isn’t so crazy about Ornette

Leon Parker (photo: Steven Sussman)

Leon Parker has been keeping busy since he returned to the United States a few years ago, having previously spent about two decades abroad in France—during which time he rarely performed or recorded. Now the 54-year-old drummer, who came to prominence in mid-’90s New York for his pared-down style, is active in a number of groups, particularly with Brad Mehldau, Peter Bernstein, and Aaron Goldberg.

Parker himself hasn’t released an album under his own name since 2001, but he is currently at work on a new release that he plans to put out at the beginning of next year, featuring contributions, he says, from Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, and Cécile McLorin Salvant

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Matthew Kassel

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer whose work has been published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and The Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications.