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Grady Tate

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Grady Tate
Tate in 1972
Tate in 1972
Background information
Born(1932-01-14)January 14, 1932
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedOctober 8, 2017(2017-10-08) (aged 85)
New York City, U.S.
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion, vocals
Years active1950s–2017
LabelsSkye, Impulse!, Milestone

Grady Tate (January 14, 1932 – October 8, 2017)[1] was an American jazz and soul-jazz drummer and baritone vocalist. In addition to his work as sideman, Tate released many albums as leader and lent his voice to songs in the animated Schoolhouse Rock! series.[2][3] He received two Grammy nominations.[4]


Tate was born in Hayti, Durham, North Carolina, United States.[5] In 1963 he moved to New York City, where he became the drummer in Quincy Jones's band.[5]

Grady Tate's drumming helped to define a particular hard bop, soul jazz and organ trio sound during the mid-1960s and beyond. His slick, layered and intense sound is instantly recognizable for its understated style in which he integrates his trademark subtle nuances with sharp, crisp "on top of the beat" timing (in comparison to playing slightly before, or slightly after the beat). The Grady Tate sound can be heard prominently on many of the classic Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery albums recorded on the Verve label in the 1960s.[5]

During the 1970s, Tate was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet. In 1981, he played drums and percussion for Simon and Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park.

As a sideman, Tate played with musicians including Jimmy Smith, Astrud Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Wes Montgomery, Eddie Harris, J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding and Michel Legrand.[5]

Among his most widely heard vocal performances are the songs "I Got Six", "Naughty Number Nine", and "Fireworks" from Multiplication Rock and America Rock, both part of the Schoolhouse Rock series.[5] For the 1973 motion picture Cops And Robbers, Tate sang the title song, written by Michel Legrand and Jacques Wilson.[6] On Mark Murphy's album Living Room, Tate shares the vocals on a medley of "Misty" and "Midnight Sun". On the album Threesome, with Monty Alexander and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Tate sings words to Miles Davis's composition "All Blues", aggregated from a number of well-known and standard blues songs as well as to the jazz standard "Weaver of Dreams" (written by Victor Young).

He joined the faculty of Howard University in 1989.[5]

Grady Tate died of complications of Alzheimer's disease on October 8, 2017, at the age of 85.[7][1] He was survived by his wife Vivian and son Grady, Jr.[1][7]


As leader[edit]

  • Windmills of My Mind (Skye, 1968)
  • Slaves [O.S.T.] (Skye, 1969)
  • Feeling Life (Skye, 1969)
  • After the Long Drive Home (Skye, 1970)
  • She Is My Lady (Janus, 1972)
  • Movin' Day (Janus, 1974)
  • By Special Request (Buddah, 1974) compilation
  • Master Grady Tate (ABC Impulse, 1977)
  • Sings TNT (Milestone, 1991)
  • Body & Soul (Milestone, 1993)
  • Feeling Free (Pow Wow, 1999)
  • All Love (Eighty-Eight's, 2002)
  • From the Heart: Songs Sung Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2006)

As sideman[edit]

With Benny Bailey

With Ray Bryant

With Kenny Burrell

With Johnny Hodges

With J. J. Johnson

With Quincy Jones

With Oliver Nelson

With Houston Person

With Jimmy Rushing

With Lalo Schifrin

With Zoot Sims

With Jimmy Smith

With Billy Taylor

With Cal Tjader

With others


  1. ^ a b c Schudel, Matt (October 11, 2017). "Grady Tate, drummer who helped drive 1960s soul-jazz movement, dies at 85". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Sandomir, Richard (October 13, 2017). "Grady Tate, prolific jazz drummer turned vocalist, dies at 85". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  3. ^ Sandomir, Richard (October 12, 2017). "Grady Tate, Jazz Drummer Turned Vocalist, Dies at 85". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  4. ^ "Grady Tate | Artist | GRAMMY.com".
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ginell, Richard S. (January 14, 1932). "Allmusic Biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  6. ^ "Cops and Robbers / Aram Avakian [motion picture]:Bibliographic Record Brief Display". Performing Arts Encyclopedia. Library of Congress. March 22, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (October 10, 2017). "Grady Tate, Prodigious Jazz Drummer and Noted Vocalist, Dies at 85". NPR.org. Retrieved October 10, 2017.

External links[edit]