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Pheeroan akLaff

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Pheeroan akLaff
Pheeroan akLaff with the Oliver Lake Trio, Saalfelden, Austria, 2009
Pheeroan akLaff with the Oliver Lake Trio, Saalfelden, Austria, 2009
Background information
Born (1955-01-27) January 27, 1955 (age 69)
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion

Pheeroan akLaff (born Paul Maddox; January 27, 1955) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist.[1][2][3] He began playing in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan and Ann Arbor, with R & B keyboardist Travis Biggs, funk keyboardist Nimrod “The Grinder” Lumpkin, The Ebony Set and The Last Days. He moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and formed a group with saxophonist/flautist/percussionist Dwight Andrews. He debuted with saxophonist Bill Barron in 1975, followed by a tenure in Leo Smith's ‘New Dalta Ahkri’ (1977-1979).[4]

akLaff developed a longstanding association with saxophonist and poet Oliver Lake starting in 1975, which included writing for their fusion ensemble, ‘Jump Up’.[4] He recorded with Lake on and off from 1980-1992. His extensive work as a session musician includes collaborations with prominent jazz musicians Geri Allen, Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Julius Hemphill, Henry Threadgill, Mal Waldron, Sonny Sharrock, Anthony Davis and Reggie Workman.[5] In 2006 he co-founded Seed Artists in Brooklyn. In 2009, he reestablished his creative partnership with Wadada Leo Smith after thirty years, and has recorded with him since, including Ten Freedom Summers, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013. akLaff currently teaches music at Wesleyan University.


As leader[edit]

  • 1983: Fits Like a Glove (Gramavision)
  • 1989: Sonogram (Mu Works)
  • 1998: Global Mantras (Modern Masters)

As sideman[edit]

With Geri Allen

With Anthony Braxton

With Oliver Lake

With Henry Threadgill

With Jay Hoggard

  • The Right Place (JHVM, 2003)
  • Something 'Bout Believing (Twinz Records, 1999)
  • Love Is the Answer (Muse, 1994)
  • Riverside Dance (India Navigation), 1985
  • Love Survives (Gramavision, 1983)

With Craig Harris

With Ray Anderson

  • What Because (Gramavision, 1989)

With Don Byron

With Baikida Carroll

With Anthony Davis

  • Hidden Voices (India Navigation, 1979) – with James Newton
  • Variations in Dream-time (India Navigation, 1980)
  • Episteme (Gramavision, 1981)
  • Hemispheres (Gramavision, 1983)

With Julius Hemphill

With Uwe Kropinski

  • First Time in Manhattan (ITM, 1993)

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Amina Claudine Myers

With Sonny Sharrock

With Wadada Leo Smith

With Mal Waldron

With Reggie Workman

With Yōsuke Yamashita

  • Kurdish Dance (Verve, 1993)
  • Dazzling Days (Verve, 1993)
  • Fragments 1999 (Verve, 1999)
  • Spider (Verve, 1996)


  1. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "akLaff, Pheeroan". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 22–23. ISBN 1561592846.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 5. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  3. ^ "About Pheeroan". pheeroanaklaff.com. Retrieved 2021-05-01.
  4. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Pheeroan akLaff: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  5. ^ "Iridium Jazz Club Presents Historic Jazz Concert Thursday & Friday October 26 & 27 The Cecil Taylor Trio Featuring Henry Grimes And Phreeroan akLaff". All about jazz. 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2010-04-14.

External links[edit]