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Grady Tate (1932-2017)

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Grady Tate, one of the most prolific drummers in the soul-jazz era beginning in the early 1960s who recorded on nearly 700 sessions and who easily could have had a career as a vocalist, died on October 8. He was 85.

Tate began his recording career with Wild Bill Davis, the father of the jazz organ, on Davis's 1959 album Flyin' High. He remained with Davis through four albums in the early 1960s. Listening to the recording today, you realize that from the outset, Tate had a precise tautness to his brush and stick playing that illuminated the soul-jazz feel. Tate wasn't a flashy player like many of the drummers who came up in the hard-bop years of the late 1950s. Instead, he kept rock-solid time with poly-rhythmic sensitivity and drive.

A look through Tate's vast discography can leave you breathless. After arriving in New York in the early 1960s, Tate was on multiple recording sessions each month—an almost unheard of schedule even for most jazz session players in rock era. Many were large orchestral dates, especially in the late 1960s and '70s, when producer Creed Taylor was at A&M and then his own CTI Records breaking new ground with sophisticated adult contemporary jazz orchestration for albums starting with Wes Montgomery. Tate was on many of those Montgoery albums.

Here are my favorite Grady Tate tracks:

Here's Tate on The Theme From Mr. Lucky on Wild Bill Davis's album Dis Heah, with George Clarke on tenor saxophone (1960)...

Theme From Mr. Lucky

Here's Tate on Teenie's Blues from Oliver Nelson's album Fantabulous (1964)...



Here's Tate with Budd Johnson and Joe Newman on Playin' My Hunch from John's Off the Wall album (1964)...



Here's Tate with Count Basie and vocalist Arthur Prysock on I Could Write a Book (1965)...



Here's Billy Taylor (p), Ben Tucker (b) and Grady Tate (d) on I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free (1967)...



Here's Tate with pianist Ray Brant's on Up Above the Rock (1968)...



Here's Tate on vibraphonist Roy Ayers's Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)...



Here's Tate singing Windmills of My Mind (1968) from the album of the same name...



Here's Tate behind Barbara & Ernie on Satisfied (1971)...



Here's Tate with Leon Spencer Jr. playing Trouble Man from Where I'm Coming From (1973)...



Here's Tate on Grant Green's Final Comedown soundtrack album composed by Wade Marcus (1972)...



And here's Tate on Benny Carter's Wonderland album (1976)...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

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