Born: June 19, 1959 Primary Instrument: Drums
Drummond's playing exudes a wealth of jazz history along with a surprisingly adventurous approach...he arrives as one of the most promising leader-drummers in jazz, states a recent feature article about Billy in Modern Drummer magazine. He was born in 1959 in Newport News, Virginia and began to play the drums at the age of four, influenced by his father who was also a drummer. His love affair with jazz began through his father's record collection, which included many of the classic recordings of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and so on. During his youth, Billy played in various school and local bands, studying many styles of music. He then went on to college and obtained a degree in Music Performance. In early 1988, Billy arrived in New York City, looking forward to experiencing a healthier jazz scene. His first major break on the circuit was to join the young band, Out of the Blue (OTB), with whom he recorded on the group's final CD for Blue Note Records. Soon after, Billy joined piano master Horace Silver's Sextet and toured with them extensively.
Many of the world's greatest jazz artists have called upon Billy to tour and record with them including: Carla Bley, Sonny Rollins, Steve Kuhn Joe Henderson, J.J. Johnson, Nat Adderley, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, Lee Konitz, James Moody, Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Tolliver, Sheila Jordan, Toots Thielmanns. He can be heard on more than 200 CDs in almost all genres of jazz and creative music (see discrography). Billy is most definitely in the pantheon of tasteful drummers whose musicality and finesse always contribute to a greater effect.
Currently Billy is adjunct professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School of Music and at New York University, as well as teaching privately.
In addition to being one of the most sought-after sidemen, Billy Drummond has released three CDs as a leader; Native Colours, The Gift featuring such artists as Steve Nelson, Steve Wilson, Peter Washington and Seamus Blake. Jazz Times magazine said of The Gift, the recording has a richness and total lack of cliches...imaginative, satisfying and memorable. Dubai, his third solo release, Drummond's nimble, pianoless quartet spins jazz on the head of a pin with stunning results. (JazzTimes)
Dubai was voted # 1 on New York Times jazz critic Peter Watrous. The CD features the two tenors of Chris Potter and Walt Weiskopf, bassist Peter Washington as well as Billy's powerful 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.
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