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Section B: Swing & Big Band Drummers

Sonny Greer (13 December 1895–23 March 1982) was an American jazz drummer, best known for his work with Duke Ellington. He was Ellington's first drummer, playing with his quintet, the Washingtonians, and moving with Ellington into the Cotton Club. As a result of his job as a designer with the Leedy Drum Company of Indiana, Greer was able to build up a huge drum kit worth over $3,000, as well as chimes, a gong, timpani, and vibes.

Jo Jones (October 11, 1911–September 3, 1985) (later known as Papa Jo Jones) was an American drummer, one of the most influential in the history of jazz. He was one of the first drummers to promote the use of brushes on drums and shifting the role of timekeeping from the bass drum to the hi-hat cymbal. In contrast to drummer Gene Krupa's loud, insistent pounding of the bass drum on each beat, Jones often omitted bass drum playing altogether. Jones also continued a ride rhythm on the hi-hat while it was continuously opening and closing instead of the common practice of striking it while it was closed. Jones's style influenced the modern jazz drummer's tendency to play timekeeping rhythms on a suspended cymbal that is now known as the ride cymbal.

William Henry Webb, usually known as Chick Webb (February 10, 1905 – June 16, 1939) was a jazz and swing music drummer as well as a band leader. He became one of the best-regarded bandleaders and drummers of the new "Swing" style. Drumming legend Buddy Rich cited Webb's powerful technique and virtuoso performances as heavily influential on his own drumming, and even referred to Webb as "the daddy of them all".

Sidney Catlett (born January 17, 1910 – March 25, 1951), was a swinging jazz drummer often referred to as "Big Sid Catlett" because of his large frame. In 1941 he joined Benny Goodman's band and after that joined Teddy Wilson's Sextet. In 1944 he did an album with pianist Harry Gibson. He also had his own band and played for Louis Armstrong's All Stars from 1947 to 1949 and became his drummer of choice.

Sonny Payne (4 May 1926–29 January 1979) was an American jazz drummr, best known for his work with Count Basie and Harry James. From 1950 to 1953, Payne played with Erskine Hawkins' big band, and led his own band for two years, but in late 1954 he made his most significant move, joining Basie's band for ten years of constant touring and recording.

Sam Woodyard (January 7, 1925, Elizabeth, New Jersey - September 20, 1988, Paris, France) was an American jazz drummer. In 1955, he joined Duke Ellington's orchestra, and remained the ensemble's drummer until 1966. After his time with Ellington, Woodyard played behind Ella Fitzgerald, and then moved to Los Angeles. In the 1970s he played less due to health problems, but recorded with Buddy Rich and toured with Claude Bolling.

Gene Krupa (January 15, 1909 – October 16, 1973) was an influential American jazz and big band drummer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style. He made history in 1927 as the first kit drummer ever to record using a bass drum pedal. His drum method was published in 1938 and immediately became the standard text. He is also credited with inventing the rim shot on the snare drum.

Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni (born 6 July 1924), better known by the stage name Louie Bellson (his own preferred spelling), is an Italian-American jazz drummer. He is a composer, arranger, bandleader, and jazz educator, and is credited with pioneering the use of two bass drums.

Mel Lewis (May 10, 1929 - February 2, 1990) was a drummer, jazz musician and band leader. He was born in Buffalo, New York to Russian immigrant parents. His birth name was Melvin Sokoloff. He started playing professionally as a teen, eventually joining Stan Kenton in 1954. His musical career brought him to Los Angeles in 1957 and New York in 1963. In 1966 in New York, he teamed up with Thad Jones to lead the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.

Copyright © Mat Duniam 2012