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Joe Morello, 1929 – 2011

 

One of the finest drummers in the history of jazz and one of the most celebrated, Morello began studying violin at age six and played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age nine and again at twelve.  During the latter performance, he met his hero, Jascha Heifitz and, believing that he could never duplicate the Heifitz sound, he switched to drums.

 

He worked every conceivable type of gig and in 1956 joined Dave Brubeck for a twelve-year stint which would make his name a household word among drummers.  It was his expertise which enabled Brubeck to experiment with the unusual time signatures for which the group was admired.

 

Born with impaired vision, Morello went blind in 1976. He continued to play and record, and became a legendary, much-in-demand teacher.  Joe Morello appeared on more than 120 albums, sixty with the Brubeck Quartet alone.

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Photograph by Roger Kallins. Courtesy of Patricia Darlington.