Drummer/Vocalist Grady Tate Interviewed at AAJ


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Grady Tate, 76, is best known as one of the most beloved, consistently dependable session drummers since the 1960s. He's the steady pulse on the famous version of Benny Golson's “Killer Joe," from Quincy Jones' Walking in Space (Verve, 1969), where his hi-hat groove and snare drum rim shots on the four, in tandem with bassist Ray Brown's big-toned walking, formed the backdrop for the head and solos by Hubert Laws and Freddie Hubbard.

He was the house drummer for many of Creed Taylor's CTI Records, and for six years drove the rhythm section of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show Band. He performed with the orchestras of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and was the drummer with the Billy Taylor Trio for several years. A complete percussionist comfortable in any style of jazz, Tate's mastery of brushes can be heard on “My Shining Hour" on Sensitive to the Touch: The Music of Harold Arlen (Groove Jams, 1999), with Jay Leonhart, Ken Peplowski and Ted Rosenthal.

Although the trap drums were his claim to fame and the basis for a highly successful career as a sideman accompanist to a plethora of the best vocalists and instrumentalists in jazz lore, voice was his first instrument, and his first love, singing.

AAJ Contributor Gregory Thomas spoke with Tate about leading a dual career, working with many of jazz's greatest legends, and much more.

Check out Grady Tate: The Art of the Singing Drummer at AAJ today!

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