Gerald Cleaver

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Gerald Cleaver
Background information
Born (1963-05-04) May 4, 1963 (age 60)
Detroit, Michigan

Gerald Cleaver (born May 4, 1963[1]) is a jazz drummer from Detroit, Michigan.[2]

Early life[edit]

Cleaver's father is drummer John Cleaver Jr., originally from Springfield, Ohio, and his mother was from Greenwood, Mississippi.[1] Gerald had six older siblings.[1]


Cleaver joined the jazz faculty at the University of Michigan in 1995. He has performed or recorded with Joe Morris, Mat Maneri, Roscoe Mitchell, Miroslav Vitouš, Michael Formanek, Tomasz Stańko, Franck Amsallem and others.[1]

Under the name Veil of Names, Cleaver released an album called Adjust on the Fresh Sound New Talent label in 2001. It featured Maneri, Ben Monder, Andrew Bishop, Craig Taborn and Reid Anderson and was a Best Debut Recording Nominee by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Cleaver currently leads the groups Uncle June, Black Host, Violet Hour and NiMbNl as well as working as a sideman with many different artists.


An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
2000 Adjust Fresh Sound Sextet, with Andrew Bishop (clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax), Mat Maneri (violin), Craig Taborn (piano), Ben Monder (guitar), Reid Anderson (electric bass, acoustic bass)
2007 Gerald Cleaver's Detroit Fresh Sound Sextet, with Ben Waltzer (piano), Andrew Bishop (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone), J. D. Allen (tenor saxophone), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Chris Lightcap (bass)
2008 Farmers by Nature AUM Fidelity As the band "Farmers by Nature," with Craig Taborn (piano), William Parker (bass)
2009 Be It as I See It Fresh Sound Sextet, with Craig Taborn (piano), Andrew Bishop (flue, soprano and bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone), Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone), Mat Maneri (viola), Drew Gress (bass)
2010 Out of This World's Distortions AUM Fidelity As the band "Farmers by Nature," with Craig Taborn (piano), William Parker (bass)
2010 Tivoli Trio Red Piano Records As the band "Tivoli Trio," with Frank Calberg (piano), John Hebert (bass)
2011 Love and Ghosts AUM Fidelity As the band "Farmers by Nature," with Craig Taborn (piano), William Parker (bass); in concert
2013* Life in the Sugar Candle Mines Northern Spy Quintet, As the band "Black Host," with Darius Jones (alto sax), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Cooper-Moore (piano), Pascal Niggenkemper (bass)
2016* Our Earth / Our World pfMENTUM Leaderless quartet, with Peter Kuhn and Dave Sewelson (reeds) and Larry Roland (bass)
2016* An Air of Unreality RogueArt As the band "Judson Trio," with Joëlle Léandre (bass) and Mat Maneri (viola)
2016* Ida Lupino ECM Leaderless quartet, with Giovanni Guidi (piano), Gianluca Petrella (trombone), and Louis Sclavis (clarinet)
2018* The Industry of Entropy Relative Pitch Records Leaderless quartet, with Brandon Lopez (bass), Andria Nicodemou (vibraphone), Matt Nelson (tenor saxophone)
2018* Songs of the Wild Cave RogueArt duo with Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino saxophones)
2019* What Is to Be Done Clean Feed Records Leaderless trio, with Nels Cline (guitar), Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino saxophones)
2019* Live at Firehouse 12 Sunnyside Records As "Gerald Cleaver & Violet Hour" with J.D. Allen (tenor saxophone), Andrew Bishop (bass clarinet, soprano & tenor saxophone), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Ben Waltzer (piano), Chris Lightcap (bass)
2020* Signs 577 Records Solo electronic album
2020* Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 577 Records Leaderless quartet, with Daniel Carter (tenor saxophone, trumpet, flute), Matthew Shipp (piano), William Parker (bass)
2021* Griots[3] Positive Elevation / 577 Records / Meakusma Solo electronic album

As sideman[edit]

With Lotte Anker

With Samuel Blaser

  • 7th Heaven (Between the Lines, 2008)
  • Boundless (Hatology, 2011) with Marc Ducret
  • As the Sea (Hatology, 2012) with Marc Ducret
  • Spring Rain (Whirlwind, 2015)

With Ellery Eskelin

  • Trio Willisau Live (HatOLOGY 2016)
  • Trio New York II (Prime source 2013)
  • Trio New York (Prime source 2011)

With Chris Lightcap

  • Lay-up (Fresh Sound, 2000)
  • Bigmouth(Fresh Sound, 2003)
  • Deluxe (Clean Feed, 2010)
  • Epicenter (Clean Feed, 2015)
  • SuperBigmouth (Pyroclastic, 2019)

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Joe Morris

With Ivo Perelman

  • Family Ties (Leo, 2012) with Joe Morris
  • The Living Jelly (Leo, 2012) with Joe Morris
  • The Foreign Legion (Leo, 2012) with Matthew Shipp
  • Enigma (Leo, 2013) with Matthew Shipp and Whit Dickey
  • Serendipity (Leo, 2013) with Matthew Shipp and William Parker
  • The Art of The Improv Trio Volume 1 (Leo, 2016) with Karl Berger
  • The Art of The Improv Trio Volume 3 (Leo, 2016) with Matthew Shipp
  • The Art of The Improv Trio Volume 4 (Leo, 2016) with William Parker
  • The Art of The Improv Trio Volume 5 (Leo, 2016) with Joe Morris
  • The Art of The Improv Trio Volume 6 (Leo, 2016) with Joe Morris
  • Breaking Point (Leo, 2016) with Mat Maneri and Joe Morris
  • Octagon (Leo, 2017) with Brandon Lopez and Nate Wooley

With Matthew Shipp

With Miroslav Vitous

With others


  1. ^ a b c d Adler, David R. (December 13, 2013) "Home & Away with Gerald Cleaver". JazzTimes.
  2. ^ Layne, Joslyn. "Biography: Gerald Cleaver". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  3. ^ Corroto, Mark (25 July 2021). "Gerald Cleaver: Griots". All About Jazz. Retrieved 21 August 2021.