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JazzTimes 10: The Composing Drummer (or the Drumming Composer)

A tentet of works by players who are as mighty with the pen as they are with the sticks

“I know that ad nauseam, when you hear a drummer/composer, the compositions are centered on the drumming,” Tyshawn Sorey told JazzTimes in 2009 in a discussion of his then-new album Koan. “This music, this album, is challenging the idea of what drummer/composers are supposed to do.”

There is indeed a history (oft-overlooked) of drummer/composers in jazz, and they do indeed tend toward drum-centric compositions. It’s understandable and expected. But there have also been plenty of drummer/composers who weren’t willing to rest on those laurels, and wanted a bigger piece of the tonal action. More than 10, in fact, making this limited selection mostly a matter of prominence and taste.

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Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.