Alvin Fielder (b. November 23, 1935, Meridian, Mississippi) is an American jazz drummer. He is a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Black Arts Music Society, Jackson, Mississippi, Improvisational Arts Trio/Quartet/Quintet and is a founding faculty member of the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. William Butler Fielder, jazz and classical trumpeter, Rutgers University Jazz Professor is Fielder's only sibling.
Fielder began playing drums at age 12, heavily influenced by recordings of Max Roach. While a student at Xavier University in New Orleans, he studied under Ed Blackwell at the recommendation of Earl Palmer, jazz drummer. When he continued studying pharmacy at Texas Southern University in Houston, he "worked with the "Pluma" Davis sextet, which included Don Wilkerson, Richard "Dicky Boy" Lillie, John Browning, and Carl Lott. Backed such artists as Lowell Fulsom, Amos Milburn and other R&B artists with extended engagements in Houston. Also did several studio dates for Duke records. Active on Houston jazz scene with Jimmy Harrison Quintet, John Browning Quintet, and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson Sextet." He later went to graduate school in pharmacology. After taking his degree at the University of Illinois, he began playing in Chicago, co-founding the AACM in 1965. Over the next several years Fielder played with Sun Ra, Muhal Richard Abrams, Eddie Harris, Kalaparusha, Fred Anderson, Lester Lashley and Roscoe Mitchell. Fielder is among the musicians on Roscoe Mitchell's "Sound" recorded in 1966.
In 1969, due to his father's ill health, he returned to his home state of Mississippi. Fielder took responsibility for managing the family business, became active in school desegregation, and continued to pursue his passion for the music. In 1971 he met John Reese. Fielder became very active in and helped develop Reese's fledgling Black Arts Music Society (BAMS). Fielder was instrumental in bringing many important artists to Mississippi. The artists include Muhal Richard Abrams, Alvin Batiste, Ron Brown, Betty Carter, Teddy Edwards, Malachi Favors, Dexter Gordon, Dick Griffin, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Harris, the Heath Brothers, Billy Higgins, Joseph Jarman, Joseph Jennings, Clifford Jordan, Kidd Jordan, Oliver Lake, Mulgrew Miller, Woody Shaw, Robert Stewart, Kenneth Thomas, Henry Threadgill, Freddie Waites and Cassandra Wilson. Cassandra Wilson, a native of Jackson Mississippi, as a teenager was introduced to and encouraged to sing bebop by BAMS.
In 1975, Clifford Jordan and Fielder began working with Kidd Jordan in an improvisational ensemble. At times it was The Improvisational Arts Trio, Quartet and Quintet. Clyde Kerr, Alvin Thomas, Kent Jordan, Darryl Lavigne, Johnathan Bloom and Elton Herron have played with Improvisational Arts at various times. Fielder has appeared at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year from 1975 to 2008. In 1995, Fielder participated as a founding faculty member (the only non-Louisiana musician) in the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. He has taught every year until 2008.
He recorded in 1987 with Ahmed Abdullah, Charles Brackeen, and Dennis Gonzalez, and continued exploring in the free jazz vein in the 1990s with Joel Futterman, Kidd Jordan, and others. He toured with Andrew Lamb in 2002, and released the album A Measure of Vision under his own name in 2007.