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Alan Dawson

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A musician's musician if ever there was one, drummer Alan Dawson was one of those solid, highly professional mainstream jazz musicians who seemingly played with everyone, yet never attained widespread notoriety among the jazz public at large. In the early '50s, Dawson freelanced around Boston and worked steadily with the band of drummer Sabby Lewis. He toured with Lionel Hampton in 1953, then returned to Lewis' group, with which he remained from 1953 to 1956. Around 1954, the father of young drummer Clifford Jarvis approached Dawson about teaching his son; thus began a long and illustrious career as an educator. Dawson would go on to teach many players who would have a significant impact, including, most notably, Tony Williams. In 1957, he joined the faculty of the Berklee School of Music, where he would teach for the next 18 years. Dawson spent the greater part of his professional life in Boston, playing with a variety of big-name players when they passed through town. One of his longest-lived collaborations was with pianist Jaki Byard and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin, with whom he recorded for Prestige in the '60s. Dawson also spent the years from 1968-1974 with pianist Dave Brubeck's quartet, succeeding Joe Morello in the drum chair. After leaving Berklee in 1975, Dawson continued to teach privately, earning a reputation as one who encouraged young drummers to develop a comprehensive musicality. Among other prominent leaders with whom the versatile Dawson recorded are Lee Konitz, Tal Farlow, Al Cohn, Ruby Braff, Sonny Criss, and Dexter Gordon. Dawson's 1972 date under Sonny Stitt -- Tune Up -- is considered by many to be the saxophonist's finest recording. ~ Chris Kelsey

Birth Name:

George Alan Dawson


14 July 1929 in Marietta, PA

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Influenced by this Artist