Happy Birthday Dave Bailey

February 22, 1926

A birthday tribute to the swinging drummer

Samuel David Bailey was born on Feb. 22, 1926, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. and then, after his discharge, worked on becoming a drummer, studying at the Music Center Conservatory.

Bailey made his recording debut in 1954 with Al Sears, picked up experience in the r&b/blues world and recorded during 1955-68 with such notables as Lou Donaldson, Bob Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz, Annie Ross, Ben Webster, Art Farmer, Billy Taylor, Curtis Fuller, Chris Connor, Andre Previn, Charlie Rouse, Grant Green, Tubby Hayes, Bola Sete, Vi Redd, Howard McGhee, Coleman Hawkins, Marian McPartland, Lucky Thompson, Stan Getz, Johnny Hodges, Clark Terry, Roger Kellaway, and Jimmy Witherspoon, in addition to leading a few albums of his own.

Dave Bailey is probably best known for his long association with Gerry Mulligan, playing with the baritonist on and off during 1955-65 including with his sextet, pianoless quartets, and Concert Jazz Big Band.

In 1969, Bailey retired from music to become a flight instructor but since 1973 has been an important educator, most notably with the Jazzmobile in New York.

Here is Dave Bailey and his quartet’s Oct. 6, 1961 recording of “Comin’ Home Baby” with trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor-saxophonist Frank Haynes, pianist Billy Gardner, and the song’s composer bassist Ben Tucker.

-Scott Yanow


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