Connie Kay

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Connie Kay (left) with the Modern Jazz Quartet at Schiphol Airport (1961)

Connie Kay (born Conrad Henry Kirnon; 27 April 1927 – 30 November 1994) was an American jazz drummer.[1] He was best known for his long membership in the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ).

He was self-taught, and began his career playing with saxophonist Lester Young's quintet from 1949 to 1955, and also with Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and others.

Kay did R&B sessions for Atlantic Records in the early to mid-1950s, and featured on hit records such as Big Joe Turner's 'Shake, Rattle and Roll'.

Kay joined the MJQ in 1955, replacing original drummer Kenny Clarke, and stayed through the group's dissolution in 1974 and occasional reunions into the 1990s. He also played drums on several of Irish singer/songwriter Van Morrison's most important albums: Astral Weeks, one song on Saint Dominic's Preview and four songs on Tupelo Honey.[2]

Kay was known for incorporating percussion instruments alongside his drum kit, namely timpani, small cymbals, triangle, bell tree and darbukas, the latter referred to as "exotic-looking" drums in a 2006 article.[3][4]


With the Modern Jazz Quartet[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Chet Baker

With Ruth Brown

With Miles Davis

With Paul Desmond

With Bill Evans & Bob Brookmeyer

With Cannonball Adderley

With Jimmy Heath

With Chet Baker

  • Chet (Riverside 1959)

With Milt Jackson

With John Lewis

With James Moody

With Joe Newman

With Michel Sardaby

  • Night Cap (Sound Hills, 1970)

With Lucky Thompson

With Bobby Timmons

With Randy Weston