Kenny Clarke

Kenny Clarke, aka Liaqat Ali Salaam (born Kenneth Clarke Spearman on January 9, 1914, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – died January 26, 1985, Paris, France) was an innovator in jazz drumming and a jazz drummer. He was the house drummer at Minton’s Playhouse in early 1940’s and participated in the after-hours jams that helped to create modern jazz. He is the one who created the modern role for the ride cymbal to serve as the primary timekeeper. Clarke described drummers as “digging coal” before they switched to the ride cymbal. The bass drum was used heavily to support the drummers. Clarke’s time was spent on the cymbal, while Clarke used the bass drum and snare more for punctuation. Ed Thigpen, a drummer, said that Clarke owes everyone a debt. Clarke was known as “Klook” (or “Klook-mop”) because of the innovative style he created. Clarke was the founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet, also known as the Milt Jackson Quartet in 1951. He also played on many recordings sessions for Savoy Records as the house drummer. In 1955, Connie Kay replaced Clarke in the MJQ. From 1956, Clarke lived in France and worked regularly with visiting American musicians in Paris. He was part of a trio known as “The Bosses”, which included Bud Powell and Pierre Michelot. In 1961, he and Francy Boland, a Belgian pianist, formed a regular band that featured top European and ex-patriate American musicians. The eleven-year-old big band was the brainchild of Gigi Campi, an Italian producer. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

Leave a Comment