Born: June 19, 1959 Primary Instrument: Drums
Drummer Billy Drummond first came to international prominence in the bands of the legendary Horace Silver and, later, J.J. Johnson and Sonny Rollins, with whom he spent three formative years. Now one of the busiest players of his generation, he can be heard on nearly 300 albums, including three critically acclaimed recordings as a band leader, including cult hit Dubai (Criss Cross), which was voted # 1 on New York Times Best CDs of the Year by jazz critic Peter Watrous. It features the two tenors of Chris Potter and Walt Weiskopf, along with bassist Peter Washington and Billy's powerful, highly musical drumming at the helm. The material is a compelling mix of originals by the leader and members of the quartet, rounded out with compositions by Dewey Redman, Pat Metheny and Billy Strayhorn. Dubai received high praise from critics, and received a four star review in Downbeat in which the author wrote, a case has been made for Billy Drummond's new persona: one of the hippest bandleaders now at work.
Born in Newport News, Virginia, Drummond grew up listening to his father's extensive jazz record collection (including Max Roach, Miles Davis, James Moody, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins and The Three Sounds). Encouraged by his father, also a drummer and saxophonist, he was given his first drum at the age of four and was playing in local bands (including the elementary school band, where he learned to read music) by the time he was eight. After graduating from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, where he studied classical percussion for two years before switching to jazz, Drummond moved to New York, at the behest of Al Foster in 1988, and was almost immediately recruited to the young band Out of the Blue (OTB), recording Spiral Staircase for Blue Note Records, before becoming a member of Horace Silver's Sextet.
Since then, Drummond has been called upon in the studio and on the bandstand by the jazz world's elite, including Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Carla Bley (as a member of Carla Bley and the Lost Chords), Chris Potter, Lee Konitz, Eddie Gomez, Buster Williams, Nat Adderley, George Cables, Charles Tolliver, Andrew Hill, Steve Kuhn, Hank Jones, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Joe Locke, NEA recipient Sheila Jordan, Larry Willis, Javon Jackson, Archie Shepp, Charles McPherson, Tony Malaby, Eric Reed, Eddie Henderson, Marty Ehrlich and international artists Franco Ambrosetti (Switzerland), Karin Krog (Norway), Sadao Wantanabe (Japan), Toots Thielmans (Belgium), Barney Wilen (France), Tommy Smith (Scotland), Yakov Okun (Russia) and Tony Lakatos (Hungary).
In addition to maintaining a busy touring schedule, Drummond is also Professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School of Music and NYU in New York and gives private lessons and workshops around the world.
Rhythmatist Billy Drummond directs the proceedings with style and authority on Dubai, a two tenor quartet recording which more than adequately highlights Drummond's refined skills...Drummond makes masterful use of the melodic and harmonic devises at his drumstick-tips. —Jazziz
The elusive essence of a blowing session is captured on drummer Billy Drummond's Dubai. —Sunday Omaha World-Herald
Drummond has valuable ideas as a leader. For Dubai, he assembled a quartet with a fairly rare configuration; two tenor saxophonists and no pianist...he never settles on one rhythmic pattern for long, always suggesting fresh ideas for his musicians and keeping a loose, open feel to the recording. —Ben Ratliff, NY Times
Billy Drummond is one of the most crisp, popping, and sensitive straight-ahead drummers around, and this quartet is a great forum for his style. The ensemble sound is as tight as old school buddies and the soloing is inspired. —Jeff Potter, Modern Drummer
The Gift is a fine piece of work — imaginative, satisfying and memorable. —David Zych, JazzTimes
Drummer Billy Drummond has worked extensively with Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, and Bobby Hutcherson and he works hard to make his first record as a leader successful. An energetic, propulsive player he drives the group along effectively and fills up all the gaps... —Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal International
Taste and empathy are the hallmarks of drummer Drummond's playing... —George Kanzler, The Star-Ledger, Newark
Drummond is a crisp, authoritative drummer without bombast. —Tim Coakley, Sunday Gazette, Schenectady
... Billy Drummond's tasteful percussion work teasing and prodding instead of relying on volume...One World is a promising debut by a group which will hopefully be around for some time. —Vinnie Tietro, Whole Life Times
Let's face it — some jazz musicians have run the postbop groove into the ground, but the quartet Native Colors offers a fresh approach... —Calvin Wilson, Kansas City Star