Drummer Roy McCurdy will probably always be best-known for his important contributions to Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet (1964-1975), but he has been a tasteful and stimulating participant in many other sessions through the years–the list of artists with whom he has recorded or toured is stunning: Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Chuck Mangione and Gap Mangione, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Herbie Hancock, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Nancy Wilson, and Diana Krall, just to name a few.
Born in Rochester, New York, McCurdy studied at the Eastman School of Music under Bill Street. He then went on to work with the Mangione Brothers group (Chuck and Gap Mangione) in the early ’60s and later joined the Art Farmer Jazztet and then went with Sonny Rollins. Following Sonny Rollins he became a full time member of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet from the mid-’60s onward, traveling internationally with the group, including a particularly successful tour of South America in 1972. When Adderley passed in July 1975, McCurdy started touring with Kenny Rankin. He accompanied Sarah Vaughan through the 1970s and later played with Sonny Stitt and Nat Adderley.
His style of drumming is in the classic hard-bop tradition of Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, and Art Blakey. As an accompanist, McCurdy plays forcefully, aggressively, and slightly ahead of the beat; as a soloist he uses the entire drum set in a quasi-melodic fashion.
As of 2010, McCurdy is an Adjunct Professor in the Jazz Studies Department of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
Bios courtesy All About Jazz and Rochester Music Hall of Fame.
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