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Donald Bailey
March 26, 1933 - October 15, 2013
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Donald "Duck" Bailey
Donald “Duck” Bailey has helped define the pulse of jazz for more than five decades. Oddly, you're unlikely to find his name listed among fellow trap set innovators; but there is no doubt about Bailey's far-reaching and enduring influence, which dates back to his nine-year tenure with Hammond B3 legend Jimmy Smith from 1956-64. Bailey didn't just help cement the B3, guitar and drums as the definitive instrumentation of the organ combo; he created a trap set vocabulary that gave Smith plenty of room to lay down fat, pedal-generated bass lines while expertly driving the thrilling crescendos that made Smith such a dynamic performer.

The generations of musicians who came up in Bailey's wake have all received potent and enduring musical wisdom from the drummer via his work with Jimmy Smith, and he's still got plenty to teach. Bailey's handpicked band for this set includes pianist George Burton, bassist Tyrone Brown, tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, and special guest trumpeter Charles Tolliver.

Jazz fans know Bailey's sound, even if they don't always remember his name; he is one of the many important players who, for no good reason, haven't become all that famous. But that's Bailey floating beneath Smith on the organist's classic Blue Note albums: ...Back at the Chicken Shack and ...Prayer Meetin'. That's Bailey setting time behind pianists Hampton Hawes and Jimmy Rowles, and as a member of the Three Sounds, on other classic dates.

From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Donald “Duck” Bailey, Sr., after being influenced by many great drummers, began learning the drums at the sweet tender age of 10. Style and concept of the musical drum came from the late legendary jazz pianist Haasan Ibn Alli and Donald's brother Morris. After this very heavy extensive training, he joined the JIMMY SMITH GROUP in 1953 and played eight years with Smith. Donald is credited with establishing the future drum accompaniment for Jimmy Smith.

Donald was shown and learned many things from other artists. Aside from Haasan Ibn Alli, Jimmy Smith opened his mind to new concepts and a variety of music. Thus, he is now able to fit in the many varieties of jazz with a few cymbals and drums. He can take you to South America and within moments transfer you to the peace and tranquility of the Orient rhythmically, as well as implying impeccable natural rhythms and moods drummingly. Not too Loud - Not too Soft - but just right!

Donald moved in 1965 to Los Angeles where, due to his knowledge and ability, began playing immediately with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars. While in Los Angeles, he performed and recorded with: Sarah Vaughn.....Carmen McRae...Kenny Burrell...Hampton Hawes...Ester Phillips...Monk Montgomery...Jimmy Rowles (one of Billie Holiday's Favorite Pianist).

Having a nomad character, Donald moved to Japan and there spent six years fusing his drum style with that of his Oriental musical compadres. There he recorded some 30-40 albums with other Japanese famous jazz/pop artists. He was known mostly for his natural and original approach and concept of the harmonica and trombone. Donald is also well known for playing the harmonica, a rare art, and in 1977 was the group leader of an album produced solely on him emphasizing his harmonica abilities there in Japan. The album “SO IN LOVE” was a success and victory for harmonica players around the world who are so often ignored.

Press Quotes
”He is without question one of the most unique drummers I've ever played with...” -Tyrone Brown, bassist

A valuable drummer and an occasional harmonica player, Donald Bailey has appeared on a countless number of sessions through the years, usually as a sideman. Bailey freelanced in his hometown of Philadelphia and then gained some fame as Jimmy Smith's regular drummer during the organist's early prime years (1956-64), appearing on many of his Blue Note albums. He worked in Los Angeles from the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, spent five years in Japan (during which time he led a record session for Trio which found him sticking to harmonica) and then, after returning to the U.S. in 1982, settled in Oakland. Among the many artists Donald Bailey worked with through the years were Hampton Hawes, Blue Mitchell, Jimmie Rowles, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan.
Scott Yanow - allmusic.com

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