Joe Morello, legendary jazz drummer, passed away in his home over the weekend, on Saturday, March 12. His contribution to the music world began at the young age of 6 when he first started studying the violin. Just three years later, at age 9, he was featured as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; he appeared with the Orchestra as a soloist again at age 12. However, after hearing his idol Jascha Heifetz play, Morello decided he would never be able to find that kind of sound, and switched to drums at age 15.
In his 57-year drum career, Morello is best known for his time with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, where he is recognized for his adept navigation of tricky time signatures on tracks like “Take Five” and “Kathy’s Waltz.” He contributed to 60 Brubeck albums, which make up half of the total albums to which Morello contributed. Originally only agreeing to play with the band for a two-month tour, Morello was ultimately with the band until they disbanded in 1968. After this, he continued to teach private drum lessons and instructed various clinics, lectured, and made many guest solo appearances. In later years, Morello could also be seen performing with his own group in New York.
His excellence in the industry is evident in the honors he received: he won Playboy’s best drummer award seven years in a row, Down Beat magazine’s best drummer award five years in a row, and was elected into Modern Drummer magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1988 and into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993. He was also the first recipient of Hudson’s Music’s TIP Lifetime Achievement award last June. Although he will be greatly missed, his influence in the industry will always be remembered.