Mickey Roker

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Mickey Roker
Mickey Roker.jpg
Roker in the 1980s
Background information
Birth name Granville William Roker
Born (1932-09-03)September 3, 1932
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Died May 22, 2017(2017-05-22) (aged 84)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Jazz, hard bop, bebop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Associated acts Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Duke Pearson, Tommy Flanagan, Ella Fitzgerald, Zoot Sims, Horace Silver, Junior Mance, Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Phil Woods, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Bucky Pizzarelli, Stanley Turrentine, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke

Granville William "Mickey" Roker (September 3, 1932 – May 22, 2017) was an American jazz drummer.

Biography[edit]

Roker was born into extreme poverty in Miami to Granville (Sr.) and Willie Mae Roker. After his mother died (his father never lived with them), when he was only ten, he was taken by his grandmother to live in Philadelphia with his uncle Walter, who gave him his first drum kit and communicated his love of jazz to his nephew.[1] He also introduced the young Roker to the jazz scene in Philadelphia, where drummer Philly Joe Jones became Roker's idol.

In the early 1950s, he began to gain recognition as a sensitive yet hard-driving big-band drummer. He was especially favored by Dizzy Gillespie, who remarked of him that "once he sets a groove, whatever it is, you can go to Paris and come back and it's right there. You never have to worry about it."[2] Roker was soon in demand for his supportive skills in both big-band and small-group settings. While in Philadelphia he played with Jimmy Oliver, Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Divine, King James and Sam Reed before moving to New York in 1959, where his first gigs were with Gigi Gryce, Ray Bryant, Joe Williams-Junior Mance, Nancy Wilson and the Duke Pearson big band.[2][3]

In 1992, he replaced Connie Kay in the Modern Jazz Quartet.[2]

Roker was still active on the Philadelphia scene during the 21st century before his death. He had recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Duke Pearson, Tommy Flanagan, Ella Fitzgerald, Zoot Sims, Horace Silver, Junior Mance, Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Phil Woods, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Bucky Pizzarelli, Stanley Turrentine, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke, and many other jazz musicians.

Roker died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of 84.[4]

Discography[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons

With Roy Ayers

With Ray Brown

  • Red Hot Ray Brown Trio (Concord, 1987)

With Ray Bryant

With Art Farmer

With Frank Foster

With Dizzy Gillespie

Left to right: Roker, Ben Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and a hidden Rodney Jones in Buffalo, N.Y., 1977

With Gigi Gryce

With Herbie Hancock

With Gene Harris

  • The Gene Harris Trio Plus One (Concord, 1984)

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Milt Jackson

With Willis Jackson

With Hank Jones

With Sam Jones

With Irene Kral

With Charles Kynard

With Mike Longo

With Junior Mance

With Herbie Mann

With Blue Mitchell

With the Modern Jazz Quartet

With Lee Morgan

With Joe Pass

With Duke Pearson

With Sonny Rollins

With Shirley Scott

With Horace Silver

With Buddy Terry

With Stanley Turrentine

With McCoy Tyner

With Harold Vick

With Mary Lou Williams

  • Zoning (Mary Records, 1974 - later reissued by Smithsonian Folkways, with expansion)
  • Free Spirits (SteepleChase, 1975)

With Cedar Walton

With Joe Williams

With Reuben Wilson

With Phil Woods

With The N.Y. Hardbop Quintet

With Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grapelli

References[edit]

External links[edit]