Born in Houston, Texas, Carvin began his musical training at the age of six with his father, one of the top drummers in Houston. By the age of twelve, Carvin began playing professionally and won what would be the first of five consecutive Texas rudimental championships. Carvin's career has included two years as a staff drummer with Motown Records, as well as studio and television work on the West Coast.
Joining Freddie Hubbard's band in 1973, Carvin moved to New York City, where he gained a reputation as one of the most formidable drummers on the jazz scene. A prime example of his work with Hubbard can be seen on the Mosaic Records/Jazz Icons DVD released in fall 2011 featuring Carvin with Hubbard’s very first touring group.
In addition to leading his own bands, Carvin has played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, Hank Jones, McCoy Tyner, Illinois Jacquet, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, James Moody, Hampton Hawes, Ruth Brown, Johnny Hartman, Abbey Lincoln, Jimmy Smith, Hugh Masekela, Alice Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Charles Brown, Terumasa Hino, Bobby Watson, Billy Bang, and many others.
Carvin has recorded on more than 250 albums. He is also a drum teacher and clinician.
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With Pat Martino
- Starbright (Warner Bros., 1976)
With Jackie McLean and the Cosmic Brotherhood
- New York Calling (SteepleChase, 1974)
With Pharoah Sanders
- Elevation (Impulse!, 1973)
With Frank Strozier
- Remember Me (SteepleChase, 1976)
- Michael Carvin biography, AllMusic.com. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Calder, Robert R. "Marsalis Music Honors Michael Carvin". AllAboutJazz.com. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Bob Kenselaar, "Michael Carvin: The Making of a Master" (interview), July 30, 2012, AllAboutJazz.com. Retrieved July 30, 2012.