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Swing, Bop and Jazz Drummers Timeline

It's good to know your history. As an artist you want to push "the boundaries" but how can you push boundaries if you don't know what and who defined them previously? Every generation pushes and hopefully expands and adds to what came before.

It's, of course, also essential to learn different styles and techniques from the people who pursued the same discipline as you. This way you can strive to create more fully. Learn the language of your craft and then expand on it.

A while back I made a video of jazz drummers timeline, with dates, pictures and actual playing of each drummer. The timeline is not complete but it does give a good overview of the greats. Following is also a written time line of swing and bop drummers. Feel free to comment below to add to this list or make corrections.

Style transition periods:

Transition 1- Swing to Bop 1940-1950

Transition 2- Bop - Avant Garde 1960-1970

Swing: 1925-1945

Be Bop: 1945-1965

Post Bop/Fusion: 1965-Present

Swing Drummers from 1925-1945:

  1. Warren Baby Dodds  b. 1898 New Orleans d. 1959
  2. Zutty Singleton  b. 1898 New Orleans d. 1975
  3. William "Chick" Webb b. 1902 (disputed) Baltimore d. 1939
  4. William "Sonny" Grier b. 1895 Long Branch, NJ d. 1982
  5. George Wettling b. 1907 Topeka Kansas d. 1968
  6. Dave Tough b. 1907 Oak Park, Ill d. 1948
  7. Gene Krupa b. 1909 Chicago, Ill d. 1973
  8. William "Cozy" Cole b. 1909 East Orange, NJ d. 1981
  9. Sid Catlett b. 1910 Evansville, IN d. 1951
  10. Jonathan Jo Jones "Papa"  b. 1911 Chicago, Ill d. 1985

Transition Drummers 1940-1950 (Swing to Bop):

  1. Kenny Clark b. 1914 Pittsburg, PA d. 1985
  2. Buddy Rich b. 1917 Brookline, NY d. 1987

Be Bop Drummers 1945-1965:

Art Blakey b.1919 Pittsburg, PA d. 1990

Shelly Manne b. 1920 NY, NY d. 1984

Philly "Joe" Jones b. 1923 Philadelphia, PA d. 1985

Max Roach b. 1924 North Carolina d. 2007

Roy Haynes b. 1925 Boston, MA

Elvin Jones b. 1927 Pontiac, MI d. 2004

Billy Higgins b. 1936 L.A., CA d. 2001

This is my list. Feel free to add your own. These are the drummers whom I feel had the most influence on Swing to Bop.

Timeline of Video I put together. I know many are missing!

Jazz Drummers timeline. A montage of jazz drumming greats. I accompanied pictures with their playing so you can hear the differences in each style. They are in order by year. Good for a jazz history class. Enjoy.

  1. Sonny Greer – 1895 – 1982
  2. Baby Dobbs – 1898-1959
  3. Zutty Singleton – 1898 – 1975
  4. Chick Webb – 1909 – 1939
  5. Gene Krupa – 1909 – 1973
  6. Big Sid Catlett – 1910 – 1951
  7. Papa Jo Jones – 1911 – 1985
  8. Kenny Clarke – 1914 – 1985
  9. Denzil Best – 1917 - 1965
  10. Buddy Rich – 1917 – 1987
  11. Shadow Wilson – 1919 – 1959
  12. Art Blakey – 1919 - 1990
  13. Don Lamond – 1920 - 2003
  14. Philly Joe Jones - 1923 - 1985
  15. Max Roach – 1924 – 2007
  16. Roy Haynes – 1925 -Present
  17. Elvin Jones – 1927 – 2004
  18. Joe Morello – 1928 - 2011
  19. Tony Williams – 1945 – 1997

Compiled by: Gary Benson

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