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Vernel Fournier

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Vernell Fournier in New York NY playing with Tommy Flanagan and George Mraz. July 7, 1983

Vernel Anthony Fournier (July 30, 1928 – November 4, 2000),[1] known from 1975 as Amir Rushdan, was an American jazz drummer probably best known for his work with Ahmad Jamal from 1956 to 1962.


Fournier was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, into a Creole family. He left college to join a big band led by King Kolax. After Kolax downsized to a quintet, Fournier moved to Chicago in 1948,[2] where he played with such musicians as Buster Bennett, Paul Bascomb and Teddy Wilson. As house drummer at the Bee Hive club on Chicago's South Side in 1953–55, he accompanied many visiting soloists, including Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Stitt, J.J. Johnson, Earl Washington and Stan Getz.[1]

From 1953 to 1956, Fournier also worked many recording sessions with Al Smith, Red Holloway, Lefty Bates, and others. He joined Ahmad Jamal's trio in 1957, along with bass player Israel Crosby, and remained with the group until 1962, appearing on a series of recordings for the Chess label. The best known of these, At the Pershing: But Not for Me (1958), became one of the best selling jazz records of all time,[1] remaining on the Billboard jazz charts for over two years.[1]

After leaving the Jamal trio, Fournier joined George Shearing for two years before rejoining Jamal briefly in 1965–66. He then took a long-running gig with a trio at a restaurant owned by Elijah Muhammad.

He converted to Islam in 1975, and took the Muslim name of Amir Rushdan.[3]

He worked with Nancy Wilson, Clifford Jordan, Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams, John Lewis and Barry Harris. Fournier was also a teacher of drumming, working at Barry Harris's Jazz Cultural Theater, the New School, and the Mannes College of Music.

A stroke in 1994 left him unable to use his legs and confined him to a wheelchair. Although he was unable to play drums professionally, after his stroke, he continued his teaching activities. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage in Jackson, Mississippi, in 2000.


With Lorez Alexandria

With Gary Burton

With Billy Eckstine and Benny Carter

With Ahmad Jamal

With Etta Jones

With Sam Jones

With Clifford Jordan

With Houston Person

With Jimmy Reed

With George Shearing

With Frank Strozier

  • Cloudy and Cool (Vee Jay, 1960) - with Billy Wallace and Bill Lee

Drum method[edit]

  • Vernel Fournier - Drum Techniques: Intermediate - Advanced Exercises and Etudes


  1. ^ a b c d "Vernel Fournier: 1928-2000". Jazzhouse.org. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  2. ^ "King Kolax Discography". Campber.people.clemson.edu. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  3. ^ Ben Ratliff, "Vernel Fournier, 72, Jazz Drummer Revered for Precision and Understatement", The New York Times, November 10, 2000.

External links[edit]