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Section E: 1980's-Current Drummers

Vinnie Colaiuta (born February 5, 1956) is an American drummer based in Los Angeles. Originally from Brownsville, Pennsylvania, he began playing drums as a child and received his first full drum kit from his parents at the age of 14. His break came in April 1978 at the age of 22, when he auditioned for Frank Zappa, an audition that involved performing the notoriously difficult piece entitled "The Black Page". The audition was successful and Colaiuta went on to work with Zappa as his principal drummer for studio and live performances. Colaiuta's performances on Zappa's albums Tinsel Town Rebellion, Joe's Garage and Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar are considered by many drummers to be among the most astounding ever recorded. Joe's Garage was named one of the top-25 drumming performances of all time in a 1993 Modern Drummer article.

Kenny Aronoff (born March 7, 1953) is an American drummer. In the mid-1980s, Kenny began to develop an enormously successful career as a studio musician, playing on hundreds of records as well as touring worldwide with many artists. Aronoff has recorded with musicians such as Melissa Etheridge, Jon Bon Jovi, Michelle Branch, Joe Cocker, Meat Loaf, Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morissette, Bob Seger, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt, Alice Cooper, Belinda Carlisle, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson.

Dennis Chambers (born May 9, 1959) is an American drummer who has recorded and performed with John Scofield, Carl Filipiak, Steely Dan, Santana, Parliament/Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, Niacin, Mike Stern, and many others. Despite a complete lack of formal training, Chambers has become well-known among drummers for his impressive technique and speed. Chambers is particularly regarded for his ability to play "in the pocket" but can also stretch very far out of the pocket which is also a hallmark of his technique. Chambers exhibits a powerful style that is technically proficient, yet highly musical and groove-oriented. He can play in a wide variety of musical genres, but is perhaps most notable for his jazz-fusion, funk, and Latin music playing.

Omar Hakim (born February 12, 1959 in New York City - USA) is a famous drummer noted in jazz, jazz fusion and pop music. Among the notable artists he has played with are Anita Baker, Sting, Weather Report, Mariah Carey, Madonna, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Everything but the Girl, Marcus Miller, Dire Straits, Kazumi Watanabe and many others.

Chad Wackerman (born March 25, 1960 in Long Beach, California) is a jazz, jazz fusion and rock drummer. Wackerman joined the Bill Watrous band in 1978 and later went on to work with Frank Zappa from 1981 to 1988. Chad was also the drummer for the house band on the first Dennis Miller late night talk show. Chad has also toured with James Taylor, John Petrucci and Joe Sample, as well as fellow Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio in a series of all-percussion concerts. Chad lived in Australia for ten years between 1995 and 2005.

Terry Bozzio (December 27, 1950) is an American drummer best known for his work with the late Frank Zappa. Bozzio is noted for creating the melodic ostinato for the drum set. In most of Bozzio’s works, the ostinato is played using various bass drum and hi-hat permutations while he solos against these rhythms using his hands. Bozzio is also noted for creating orchestral compositions on the drum set by playing polyrhythms and metric modulations while utilizing his large custom kit (sometimes nicknamed "SS Bozzio"), in which the tom toms are tuned to specific notes to create the atmosphere that is Bozzio’s signature sound.


Manu Katché is a French musician, born in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés on October 27, 1958 of ivorian origin. Though he is also a well-experienced and talented songwriter, he is most notably and widely regarded for his passionate, stylish and ultimately unique skill of playing drums. He was sky-rocketed to stardom in the music world in the mid-1980s mostly thanks to the huge success of Peter Gabriel's 1986 album So and his subsequent work with Sting. After that he has been prominently featured in the pop, rock and world music scene playing with numerous bands and artists, including Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola, Dire Straits, Jan Garbarek, Manu Chao and Loreena McKennitt.

Jeff Hamilton (born August 4, 1953) is an American jazz drummer. He is co-director of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and leader of his own trio. He is perhaps best known for his work with Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, and Diana Krall as well as with the groups he headlines. Jeff is co-owner of Bosphorus Cymbals.

William Harris "Bill" Stewart (born October 18, 1966, Des Moines, Iowa) is an American jazz drummer. Stewart is a versatile player who has performed with a broad array of musicians, from Maceo Parker to Jim Hall. As a drummer, Bill Stewart's playing is distinguished by its melodic focus, and its polyrhythmic, or layered, character.

Jo Jo Mayer was born January 18, 1963 in Zurich, Switzerland. Son of a musician (bass player Vali Mayer), he spent his early childhood on the road traveling throughout Europe and the Far East. At the age of 2 he got his first drum set. More recently, Jojo has been venturing into New York's Techno/Multimedia/Avantgarde/club scene by promoting his own weekly party event called PROHIBITED BEATZ. This new platform for live "Drum n" Bass", "Nu-Skool Breaks", "Speed Garage" and the latest stylistical hybrids and mutations in DJ culture, has also provided the back drop for his first solo project called NERVE.

Thomas Lang (born August 5, 1967 in Vienna, Austria) is a professional drummer, frequent drum clinician and a producer. He started playing the drums at the age of five, and after years of private lessons he attended the Vienna Conservatory of Music. Since then he has worked as an independent drummer. In Modern Drummer magazine, he was been voted by many drummers to be one of the fastest, most technical drummers in the world.


Marvin "Smitty" Smith was born in Waukegan, Illinois, where his father, Marvin Sr., was a drummer. As a result, "Smitty," as he is called by fellow bandmates, was exposed to drumming at a young age, receiving formal musical training at the age of three. Smith, an alumnus of Berklee, has recorded 200 albums with various artists, as well as two solo albums. In addition, he also has toured with Sting, Sonny Rollins and Willie Nelson. He is a former member of The New York Jazz Quartet, and is in a band with Kevin Eubanks, fellow Berklee alum and Tonight Show band member.

For the last 20 years, Tommy Igoe has lived and worked in New York while touring internationally several months of every year. Recordings or tours include artists such as Stanley Jordan, Art Garfunkel, Lauryn Hill, Dave Grusin, New York Voices, Patti Austin, Mark Mancina, Blood, Sweat and Tears and David Wilcox.


Will Kennedy has helped to define the leading edge of contemporary jazz. Will was a member of the internationally acclaimed group Yellowjackets for over nine years, recording ten records garnering an amazing fourteen Grammy nominations. Will won "Modern Drummer" magazine's reader's poll for best drummer (electric jazz category) three years in a row.

Copyright © Mat Duniam 2012