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Jeff Ballard (musician)

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Jeff Ballard
Background information
Born (1963-09-17) September 17, 1963 (age 60)
Santa Cruz, California, U.S.
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion
LabelsOkeh Edition Records

Jeff Ballard is an American jazz drummer. He has played with Ray Charles and Pat Metheny and played periodically with Chick Corea in many groups such as Origin and the Chick Corea New Trio. He also played with many New York–based jazz musicians such as Reid Anderson, Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Miguel Zenon and Eli Degibri. He has also played with the Joshua Redman Elastic Band.[1]

He is a member of the Brad Mehldau Trio (since 2005) and co-leader of Fly, a collective trio with Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier[2] and leads Jeff Ballard Trio and Jeff Ballard Fairgrounds.[3]


Jeff Ballard was born 17 September 1963 in southern California but grew up and studied in Santa Cruz, California.[4] He began playing drums at the age of 14, attended Cabrillo College where he studied music theory, and toured with many bands, all the time absorbing influences and developing his own approach to drumming.[5] He met Larry Grenadier in 1982, with whom he plays in both Fly and Brad Mehldau Trio.[4] At the age of 24 he went on the road with Ray Charles for eight months every year 1988-1990 playing in Charles' Big Band.[4] He moved to New York in 1990, where he started collaborating with Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner and Ben Allison.[6] Later on in New York he started to play with Avishai Cohen and Chick Corea.[7] Ballard started the band Fly with Larry Grenadier and Mark Turner around the time Ballard was working with Corea.[4] During a performance with Fly trio in New York city in 2005, pianist Brad Mehldau was invited to sit in, which led to Brad inviting Jeff to join his own trio subbing for Jorge Rossy, who for some time had been planning on moving back to Spain to focus on his piano playing.[6] He formed the Jeff Ballard Trio with Lionel Loueke and Miguel Zenon, releasing Time’s Tales (Okeh) as the recording debut for Ballard as leader in 2014.[5] His second album as leader is Fairgrounds (Edition Records) released January 2019 with Lionel Loueke, Kevin Hays and Reid Anderson with guest appearances from Mark Turner and Chris Cheek.


  • Best Debut Album, 2014, NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, Time's Tales[8]
  • Best Instrumentalist / International Drums/Percussion, Echo Jazz Awards 2015 Time's Tales[9]


As leader[edit]

As group[edit]

With Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier

SFJAZZ Collective

  •  Live: SFJAZZ Center 2013 – The Music of Chick Corea (SFJAZZ, 2013)[2CD]

As a sideman[edit]


  1. ^ Michael G. Nastos. "Jeff Ballard | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  2. ^ "Fly | Biography, Albums, & Streaming Radio". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  3. ^ Beuttler, Bill (2019-10-01). Make It New: Reshaping Jazz in the 21st Century. Lever Press. ISBN 978-1-64315-005-5.
  4. ^ a b c d Wardle, Renato (19 October 2006) "Jeff Ballard: A Life in Music", All About Jazz, retrieved 15 January 2019
  5. ^ a b "Jazz campus Coaches 2017/2018: Jeff Ballard"
  6. ^ a b Colligan, George "The Jeff Ballard Interview", Jazz Truth 14 June 2012
  7. ^ AllAboutJazz All About Jazz, 20 October 2006
  8. ^ "2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll", 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll
  9. ^ "ECHO Jazz awards 2015 for two OKeh artists", OKeh Records

External links[edit]