The Passing of Joe Morello

I heard of Joe Morello’s passing, and like many, noted it with some sadness. I saw Joe in the mid 1960’s in concert with Dave Brubeck. Seeing the Dave Brubeck Quartet was a big moment in my life as a drummer. But what was most amazing was the fact that Paul Desmond, sax player for the quartet, was unable to make the gig. What I heard was a perfectly seamless performance by a piano trio. I was knocked out by the fact that rhythm section players could so comfortably fill in for such a distinctive missing voice. Had I never heard the group as a quartet, I wouldn’t have imagined that it was anything but a trio.

What I got from that experience was the idea that the drummer could do things, however subtly, that could be woven into the musical fabric to make up for the loss of a melodic instrument. Joe did it without effort (so it seemed!), and with consummate taste. In later years, I saw Joe at a Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) where he talked about his approach. I later bought both of his Master Studies books, and realized that the comments that accompany the exercises are probably as valuable as the exercises themselves.

I hope that Joe realized that the length and breadth of his legacy as both a drummer and an instructor were and still are inestimable…

Comments are closed.