Cozy Cole is considered to be one of the most perfect drummers jazz has produced, possessing an incomparably solid tempo with dreamy clearness and unstoppable power!
William Randolph Cozy Cole,was a life-long student of the drums, studying at Julliard in the mid-1940s,and with the New York Philharmonic's Saul Goodman.
Most of his long career was as a sideman for such leaders as; Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton and Louis Armstrong. Even before these, Cozy had played with Benny Carter's first (and un-successful) band. That band also had such un-known names as Teddy Wilson (piano); Chu Berry (tenor sax) and a young trombonist named Dickie Wells.
Almost with complete silence, Cozy broke many of the racial barriers in music. He was the first black musician on a network musical staff. CBS radio hired him to work with Raymond Scott in 1943. In 1985, Scott recalled, Cozy was the most professional musician I've ever worked with.
Cozy played a wildly rhythmic drum solo in the stage show Carmen Jones in 1943 saying, I think I'm the only drummer to have been featured in a big Broadway show with his name on the program.
In 1944, Benny Goodman and Cozy lead a small group at the Onyx Club in New York. His band began to tour and occasionally recorded. In the short times between the touring, Cozy also went off as a soloist to tour Europe along side Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines. In 1953, Gene Krupa and Cozy formed The Krupa And Cole Drum School in New York. The more you study, Cozy said, the more you find out you don't know; but the more you study, the closer you come. The school was a great success and remained in operation until Krupa's death in 1973.
The Cozy Cole Combo played the Metropole in New York and recorded a million selling version of Topsy in 1958. His group also recorded other notable tunes such as, Jersey Jump-Off, Willow Weep For Me, and Night Wind. During the 1960's he joined up with his long time friend Jonah Jones. Jones and Cozy played with Stuff Smith and Cab Calloway in the early days and reunited to tour and record. The team remained active throughout the 1970's.
In 1978 Cozy was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Musical Arts at Capital University in Columbus. After his retirement, Cozy gained his degree at the same college in lecturer studies. Cozy Cole died at the age of 71 in Columbus January 31, 1981.