Joe Morello: Jazz Great Dies at 82
The music world lost a musical great on Sunday. Joe Morello, a celebrated jazz drummer, passed away on March 12, 2011 at his home in Irvington, NJ. Joe was 82. No cause of death was given.
Born July 17, 1928 with impaired vision, Joe Morello would become one of the greatest drummers in the history of jazz.
When Joe was six, he began to study violin. At the age of nine, he was the soloist in the Mendelshon Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Things changed for Joe when he heard his idol, Jascha Heifetz play violin. Joe believed he could never live up to Heifetz's expectations and no longer pursued violin.
At the age of fifteen, Joe discovered drums and decided that would be his musical instrument of choice.
Joe Sefick, a pit drummer for all of the shows in the Springfield area, was Joe's first drum teacher. Mr. Sefick gave Joe much encouragement and Joe began sitting in with any group that would let him. When Joe wasn't sitting in, he would get together with his friends, which included Sal Salvador and Teddy Cohen, and jam where ever he could. As a result of Joe's continuous playing, his musical range was from rudimental military to weddings. Mr. Sefick recommended the great George Lawrence Stone as Joe's next teacher and Joe moved on.
Besides teaching Joe how to read, Stone helped Joe to realize that his future was in jazz. Joe started playing with musicians like Johnny Smith and Marian McPartland. He left McPartland's band and turned down offers from the Benny Goodman band and Tommy Dorsey band.
Joe accepted a temporary position with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and wound up staying with them for twelve and a half years. The quartet broke up in 1967 and Joe would go on to teach and make solo appearances.
Joe would go on to appear on over 120 albums and cd's. Sixty of those were with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Some of the awards he won included Downbeat magazine's award for best drummer for five years in a row as well as the Playboy award for seven years in a row. Joe is the only drummer to win every music poll for five years in a row.
Joe is one of the most celebrated drummers in the history of jazz and will live on in the hearts of musicians around the world.