FIVE ALMOST FORGOTTEN MEN WITH A BIG (HEART) BEAT — There weren’t only Jones, Krupa & Webb!

LionelStandTommingYes, Gene Krupa may have been the very first who played a drum solo on a recording, and he made – in his own words – “(…) the drummer a high-priced guy. (…)”; but he wasn’t the only drummer who’d gained wide recognition, and respect among his fellow musicians, the critics, and the fans.

Among the legion of great young drummers who started their careers during the swing era (1930’s) I picked five really outstanding cats of whom two are nearly forgotten today (listed in order of appearance):

Maurice “Moe” Purtill
Cozy Cole
Johnny Morris
Big Sid Catlett
… and … Lionel Hampton

(Blog owner’s side note: All their names are linked with their biographies on, and other sites; I strongly recommend every young drummer to browse this very site, especially to Marc & Ben from both my students combos!)


The first one, Moe Purtill, had burnt down Carnegie Hall on the very same night when Lionel Hampton was singin’ Benny Goodman’s greatest hit, but on the skins, not the vibes. Yes, Hamp was a fantastic drummer too, besides his circus two-finger piano style.

Cowbell, funny Wilhelm-Tell-quotes, and Hamp’s typical “yeah-yeah-yeah’s” included of course. This is quite an advanced version of “Sing Sing Sing” (Toots Mondello on alto!).

“Moonlight Serenade” follows “Bugle Call Rag”, which was Glenn’s last piece of his first and only set at Carnegie Hall on October 16, 1939, an anniversary concert for ASCAP. This concert featured four big bands: Fred Waring, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller.

The only sounds which (justifiably!) have survived were Benny’s and Glenn’s sets from that concert. — They are available on CD HERE & HERE, and of course on vinyl too.

CozyColeMore big, respectively tender (in this case) beats with William Randolph “Cozy” Cole, and the Cab Calloway Orchestra in a typical drummer showcase of the day, composed & arranged by Dizzy Gillespie, and entitled “Paradiddle” (ca. 1941?).

Cozy was the first drummer who got the chance to earwitness the bebop revolution practically (as a player) when he was asked to accompany Bird & Diz on their very first commercial studio date in 1945.

Johnny Morris will be next. — Who was Johnny Morris? He was the man behind the snare in Tony Pastor’s fun His big moment came always when Tony told him to “paradiddle-doodle all the day”. The title? “Paradiddle Joe”. I didn’t even know there was something like a double-, and a triple-paradiddle.

I started the playlist with a track from the 1939-concert at Carnegie Hall, and it will be closed with a number from the same evening. But the definitive highlight on this playlist are Sidney “Big Sid” Catlett’s solo, and accompaniment on “Sing Sing Sing”, and how he was making great musical history in 1941.

BennyGoodman_BigSidCatlett_LiveHere we have really interacting sax, clarinet & drums duets. This is a long track, taken from this fantastic LP-twofer (HERE), and I hope you’ll enjoy it despite the minor sound-distortions.


Cozy Cole (and Gene Krupa) can be heard and watched at this blog right HERE, and on many videos at YouTube too *).


*) … not this here:

COZY COLE with Coleman Hawkins (ts), “Little Jazz” Roy Eldridge (tp), Barry Galbraith (g; hey guitarists! Click on his name, and check him out!), Johnny Guarnieri (p), Milt Hinton (b) — Better don’t listen to the crappy announcer who thinks he has to ‘comment’ everything instead of just introducing the musicians, and then shut the … f@&X up!


P.S. — Maybe I will come back with some drumming swing ladies like Sheelagh Pearson later on …


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One Response to FIVE ALMOST FORGOTTEN MEN WITH A BIG (HEART) BEAT — There weren’t only Jones, Krupa & Webb!

  1. Coleman was the coolest Hawkins around.

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