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Tom Rainey: The Reluctant Leader

After an enviable career as a sideman and collaborator, 53-year-old drummer Tom Rainey finally makes his debut as a leader

Tom Rainey
Tom Rainey
Tom Rainey with Tim Berne

Leader albums in jazz are generally considered a welcome thing. Most flavor-of-the-month phenom musicians, whether they’re actually ready to lead a session or not, have no problem recording in the spotlight.

At an opposing end is 53-year-old drummer Tom Rainey, who falls more in line with jazz’s great but waning journeyman tradition. He’s spent three decades collaborating with the likes of Tim Berne, Kenny Werner and Fred Hersch, but only recently released his first album as a bandleader, Pool School (Clean Feed). “I am a very reluctant leader,” Rainey admits. “I’m really happy to have done it and I’m proud of it, but I came to it kicking and screaming.”

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