Ronnie Burrage

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Ronnie Burrage (born October 19, 1959 in St. Louis, Missouri as James Renaldo Burrage) is an American jazz drummer.[1] His style draws from jazz, funk, and soul.


Burrage sang in the St. Louis Cathedral boys' choir[2] from age seven to eleven and performed with Duke Ellington at the age of nine. He was introduced to jazz by listening to music every day from uncles and grandparents. He played drums, percussion, and vibraphone and sang in funk, R&B, and jazz groups, including The Soul Flamingos, Fontella Bass, Oliver Sain, Third Circuit & Spirit, Rainbow Glass, and Expression Jazz Quintet.

From age 15 to 17, Burrage was a member of No Commercial Potential with Mark Friedrick on keyboards, Darryl Mixon on bass, and Richie Daniels on guitar. They were the opening act for George Duke and Gino Vannelli. Burrage played in clubs, concerts, and venues, including the annual Afro Day in the Park in St. Louis. When he was 17, he moved to New York City and played with Lester Bowie, Defunkt, Teruo Nakamura, Roland Hanna, and Major Holley. In 1978, on a full music scholarship, he attended North Texas State University.

As a member of the St. Louis Metropolitan Jazz Quintet in the early 1980s, he worked with musicians coming through St. Louis, such as Arthur Blythe, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean, and McCoy Tyner. After working with Woody Shaw, he founded an avant-garde jazz group named Third Kind of Blue with Anthony Cox and John Purcell. In the 1990s he recorded with Billy Bang, Hamiet Bluiett, Sonny Fortune, Courtney Pine, Gunther Schuller, and the World Saxophone Quartet.[2]

The Burrage Ensemble was his first band, playing primarily in New York City from 1980–1983[3] and at jazz festivals in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Members were Kenny Kirkland, Marcus Miller, and Joe Ford. Other members of the ensemble included Rasul Siddik, Branford Marsalis, Avery Sharpe, Wynton Marsalis, and Wallace Roney.

In 1989 he performed in Charles Mingus' Epitaph.[4] At Jazzmobile from 1994–2002, he was instructor in drums and percussion while also teaching at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia from 1994 to 1996. He was a substitute instructor at The New School in New York City from 1992 to 2000. He is producer and artistic director at BlueNoise Studio in Frederick, Maryland. At Pennsylvania State University he teaches hip hop and culture, African- and African-American studies, and Integrative Arts.


As leader/co-leader[edit]

As co-leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Ray Anderson

With Hamiet Bluiett

  • The Clarinet Family (Black Saint, 1987)
  • Bluiett's Barbecue Band (Mapleshade, 1996)
  • Bluiett Baritone Nation - Libation for the Baritone Saxophone Nation (Justin Time, 1998)
  • Bluiett Baritone Saxophone Group - Live at the Knitting Factory (Knitting Factory, 1998)

With Sonny Fortune

With Joe Locke

  • Present Tense (Steeplechase, 1989)
  • Etch a Sketch (Steeplechase, 1991)

With Teruo Nakamura

  • Live at Carnegie Hall (Agharta, 1979)
  • Big Apple (Agharta, 1980)
  • Route 80 (Agharta, 1985)

With Daniel Schnyder

  • The City (Enja, 1988)
  • Decoding the Message (Enja, 1989)

With Avery Sharpe

  • Unspoken Words (Sunnyside, 1988)
  • Extended Family (JPNM, 1993)

With Jarek Smietana

  • Ballads and Other Songs (Starling, 1994)
  • You Never Know (Power Bros., 1997)

With Jack Walrath

With World Saxophone Quartet

  • The Breath of Life (Elektra Musician/Nonesuch, 1992)
  • Takin It 2 the Next Leve (Justin Time, 1996)

With others


  1. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-84353-256-9. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b Wynn, Ron. "Ronnie Burrage". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (January 9, 1984). "Jazz: Burrage with quintet". New York Times.
  4. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (2003). "Burrage, Ronnie". Grove Music Online.