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Joe Morello

Joe Morello - Drum Solo 1961

Morello suffered from partial vision from birth, and devoted himself to indoor activities. At six years old he began studying the violin, going on to feature three years later as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and again three years later.


At the age of 15 Morello met the violinist Jascha Heifetz and decided that he would never be able to equal Heifetz's "sound", so switched to drumming, first studying with a show drummer named Joe Sefcik and then George Lawrence Stone, author of the noted drum textbook Stick Control for the Snare Drummer. Stone was so impressed with Morello's ideas that he incorporated them into his next book,Accents & Rebounds, which is dedicated to Morello. Later, Morello studied withRadio City Music Hall percussionist Billy Gladstone.

After moving to New York City, Morello worked with numerous notable jazz musicians including Johnny SmithTal FarlowStan KentonPhil WoodsSal SalvadorMarian McPartlandJay McShannArt PepperHoward McGhee, and others. After a period playing in McPartland's trio, Morello declined invitations to join both Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey's bands, favoring a temporary two-month tour with the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1955; Morello remained with Brubeck for well over a decade, only departing in 1968. Morello later became an in-demand clinician, teacher and bandleader whose former students include Danny Gottlieb,Max Weinberg, Phish drummer Jon Fishman, Gary Feldman, Patrick Wante, Jerry Granelli, Glenn Johnson and Rich Galichon.

Morello appeared in many Brubeck performances and contributed to over 60 albums with Brubeck. On "Take Five", he plays an imaginative drum solo maintaining the 5/4 time signature throughout. Another example of soloing in odd time signatures can be heard on "Unsquare Dance", in which he solos using only sticks without drums in 7/4 time. At the end of the track, he can be heard laughing about the "trick" ending. He also features on "Blue Rondo à la Turk", "Strange Meadow Lark", and "Pick-Up Sticks".

During his career, Morello appeared on over 120 albums, 60 of which were with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He authored several drum books, including Master Studies, published by Modern Drummer Publications, and also made instructional videos. Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummermagazine Hall of Fame in 1988, the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993, and was the recipient of Hudson Music's first TIP (Teacher Integration Program) Lifetime Achievement award in June, 2010.

Joe Morello died on March 12, 2011, at his home in Irvington, New Jersey. He was 82 years old. His death was announced on his website, although no cause of death was given.

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