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Kenny Barron Remembers Grady Tate

Pianist pays tribute to his longtime colleague and friend - the drummer/singer Grady Tate (1.14.32 – 10.8.17)

Cover of Grady Tate album Windmills of My Mind
Cover of Grady Tate album Windmills of My Mind

I think it was the bassist Chris White who introduced me to Grady Tate, back in the ’60s, when I was with Dizzy. I hadn’t heard him before, but I knew him by reputation. Before that time he was known for doing a lot of television work, with Lena Horne and Peggy Lee and people like that. So he was well versed, and a well-rounded musician. I think the first time we ended up playing together was on a record, and I loved what he did. We ended up performing together a lot. We used to do this tour together in Japan called “100 Gold Fingers,” which was a show with 10 pianists; we did it every other year. The rhythm section on this tour was Grady Tate and Bob Cranshaw, and Grady could play anything.

He was also one hell of a singer, which I didn’t know at first, until I heard “The Windmills of Your Mind.” I remember I said, “That’s Grady Tate? Wow!” I actually hired him a few years ago, before he got sick, to sing a couple of my songs with me at Jazz at Lincoln Center. There is also a recording of him singing on one of my records, The Traveler. When we were touring Japan we would often hang out after the show, and he’d always want to sing. He really was marvelous; he had a great voice.

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