Billy Drummond

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Billy Drummond
Billy Drummond in 2008
Billy Drummond in 2008
Background information
Birth nameWillis Robert Drummond Jr.
Born (1959-06-15) June 15, 1959 (age 63)
Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
Years active1980s–present
LabelsCriss Cross, SteepleChase
Billy Drummond (2020) in Aarhus, Denmark

Willis Robert "Billy" Drummond Jr. (born June 19, 1959) is an American jazz drummer.

Early life[edit]

Billy Drummond was born in Newport News, Virginia, where he grew up listening to the extensive jazz record collection of his father, an amateur drummer and jazz enthusiast. He started playing the drums at four and was performing locally in his own band by the age of eight, and playing music with other kids in the neighborhood, including childhood friends Victor Wooten and his brothers,[1] who lived a few doors away and through whom he met Consuela Lee Moorehead, composer, arranger, music theory professor, and the founder of the Springtree/Snow Hill Institute for the Performing Arts. He attended Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music on a Classical Percussion scholarship and, upon leaving school, became a member of a local Top 40 band called The Squares with bass phenom Oteil Burbridge.[2]


In 1986, encouraged by Al Foster, who had invited him to sit in at the Village Vanguard and advised him to take the next step, he moved to New York and almost immediately joined the band, Out of the Blue, with whom he recorded their last album, Spiral Staircase (Blue Note Records). A year later, he joined the Horace Silver sextet, touring extensively with him before becoming a member of Sonny Rollins's band, with whom he toured for three years. During this period he also formed long-term musical associations with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, James Moody, JJ Johnson, Andrew Hill, and others.

He has made three albums as bandleader, including his Criss Cross album Dubai (featuring Chris Potter, Walt Weiskopf and Peter Washington), which included in the list of “50 Crucial Jazz Drumming Recordings of the Past 100 Years” by Modern Drummer magazine.[3] He has made five albums as a co-leader, including We’ll Be Together Again with Javon Jackson and Ron Carter. He leads a New York-based band called Freedom of Ideas. In addition to touring he is Professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School and New York University.

A sideman on over 350 records, Drummond has played and recorded with, among others, Bobby Hutcherson, Nat Adderley, Ralph Moore (1989 and subsequently), Buster Williams (1990–93), Charles Tolliver (1991), Lew Tabackin and Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones (1991), James Moody (early 1990s), Sonny Rollins, Andy LaVerne (1994), Lee Konitz (1995), Dave Stryker (1996), George Colligan (1997), Ted Rosenthal, Bruce Barth, Joe Lovano, Andrew Hill (from 1997 to 2000), Larry Willis (2006 to the present), Toots Thielmans, Freddie Hubbard (mid-1990s), Chris Potter, Eddie Gómez, Stanley Cowell, Javon Jackson, and Sheila Jordan (1990s to present). He is a long-time member of Carla Bley's Lost Chords Quartet, Sheila Jordan's Quartet, and the Steve Kuhn Trio.

Formerly married to pianist Renee Rosnes, Drummond has been a resident of West Orange, New Jersey.[4]


As leader[edit]

As co-leader

  • 2003 Pas de Trois The Drummonds
  • 2006 Mysterious Shorter Nicholas Payton/Bob Belden/Sam Yahel/Billy Drummond/John Hart
  • 2006 Once Upon a Time The Drummonds
  • 2006 Letter to Evans The Drummonds
  • 2006 Beautiful Friendship The Drummonds
  • 2016 Three's Company Ron Carter/Javon Jackson/Billy Drummond

With OTB

With Nat Adderley

With Carla Bley

With Steve Kuhn

  • 1997 Dedication (Reservoir)
  • 1998 Countdown (Reservoir)
  • 2000 The Best Things (Reservoir)
  • 2001 Temptation
  • 2002 Waltz – Red Side
  • 2002 Waltz – Blue Side
  • 2004 Easy to Love
  • 2007 Pastorale
  • 2007 Baubles, Bangles and Beads
  • 2007 Pavanne for a Dead Princess
  • 2010 I Will Wait for You

As sideman[edit]



  1. ^ Billy Drummond interview in Drumhead magazine
  2. ^ "Oteil Burbridge: Making Peace article @ All About Jazz".
  3. ^ "50 Crucial Jazz Drumming Recordings".
  4. ^ "The State of Jazz: Meet 40 More Jersey Greats", The Star-Ledger, September 28, 2003, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 27, 2008. Accessed September 15, 2017. "Billy Drummond – An exciting drummer who lives in West Orange with his wife, pianist Renee Rosnes, Drummond has performed and/or recorded with Rosnes, Sonny Rollins, Walt Weiskopf, Steve Kuhn, Carla Bley, Wallace Roney, the Drummonds and many others."