Joe Morello
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Joe Morello
Joe Morello
Morello with the Dave Brubeck Quartet
Background information
Joseph Albert Morello
Born (1928-07-17)July 17, 1928
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died March 12, 2011(2011-03-12) (aged 82)
Irvington, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz, cool jazz, third stream
Instruments Drums
Labels Columbia
Dave Brubeck

Joseph Albert Morello (July 17, 1928 – March 12, 2011) was a jazz drummer best known for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He was particularly noted for playing in the unusual time signatures employed by that group in such pieces as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo la Turk". Popular for its work on college campuses during the 1950s, Brubeck's group reached new heights with Morello. In June 1959, Morello participated in a recording session with the quartet -- completed by the alto saxophonist Paul Desmond and the bassist Eugene Wright -- that yielded "Kathy's Waltz" and "Three to Get Ready," both of which intermingled 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures.[1]

He is widely recognised as one of the greatest drummers of all time.[]


Morello suffered from partial vision from birth,[2] and devoted himself to indoor activities. At six years old, he began studying the violin. Three years later, he was a featured soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and again three years later.

At the age of 15, Morello met the violinist Jascha Heifetz and decided that he would never be able to equal Heifetz's "sound". Therefore, he switched to drumming, first studying with a show drummer named Joe Sefcik and then George Lawrence Stone, author of the noted drum textbook Stick Control for the Snare Drummer. Stone was so impressed with Morello's ideas that he incorporated them into his next book, Accents & Rebounds, which is dedicated to Morello. Later, Morello studied with Radio City Music Hall percussionist Billy Gladstone.

After moving to New York City, Morello worked with numerous notable jazz musicians including Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, Stan Kenton, Phil Woods, Sal Salvador, Marian McPartland, Jay McShann, Art Pepper, and Howard McGhee. After a period of playing in McPartland's trio, Morello declined invitations to join both Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey's bands, favoring a temporary two-month tour with the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1955. Morello remained with Brubeck for well over a decade, departing in 1968. Morello later became an in-demand clinician, teacher and bandleader whose former students include Danny Gottlieb, Bruce Springsteen E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, Rich Galichon, Phish drummer Jon Fishman, Gary Feldman, Patrick Wante, Tony Woo, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons drummer Gerry Polci, Jerry Granelli, RIOT drummer Sandy Slavin, retired Army Blues drummer Steve Fidyk, Glenn Johnson,Pittsburgh drummer Bennett Carlise, and Jon Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres.

Morello appeared in many Brubeck performances and contributed to over 60 albums with Brubeck. On "Take Five", he plays an imaginative drum solo maintaining the 5/4 time signature throughout. Another example of soloing in odd time signatures can be heard on "Unsquare Dance", in which he solos using only sticks without drums in 7/4 time. At the end of the track, he can be heard laughing about the "trick" ending. He also features on "Blue Rondo la Turk", "Strange Meadow Lark", "Pick-Up Sticks" and "Castilian Drums".

During his career, Morello appeared on over 120 albums. He authored several drum books, including Master Studies, published by Modern Drummer Publications, and also made instructional videos. Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 1988, the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993, and was the recipient of Hudson Music's first TIP (Teacher Integration Program) Lifetime Achievement award in June, 2010.[3][1][4]

Morello died at his home in Irvington, New Jersey, on March 12, 2011, aged 82, and is interred at Saint Michael Cemetery.[5]


As leader/co-leader

As sideman

With Dave Brubeck

  • 1957 Dave Digs Disney
  • 1957 Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A.
  • 1957 Reunion
  • 1958 Jazz Goes to Junior College
  • 1958 Jazz Impressions of Eurasia
  • 1958 Newport 1958: Brubeck Plays Ellington
  • 1958 The Dave Brubeck Quartet in Europe
  • 1959 Gone with the Wind
  • 1959 The Riddle
  • 1959 Time Out
  • 1960 Brubeck and Rushing
  • 1960 Brubeck a La Mode
  • 1961 Take Five Live
  • 1961 Time Further Out
  • 1961 Tonight Only
  • 1962 Countdown--Time in Outer Space
  • 1962 Music from West Side Story
  • 1962 Real Ambassadors
  • 1963 Bossa Nova USA
  • 1963 Brandenburg Gate: Revisited
  • 1963 Dave Brubeck Quartet in Amsterdam
  • 1961 Near-Myth
  • 1963 At Carnegie Hall
  • 1964 Dave Brubeck in Berlin
  • 1964 Jazz Impressions of Japan
  • 1964 Time Changes
  • 1965 Angel Eyes
  • 1965 Jazz Impressions of New York
  • 1965 The Canadian Concert of Dave Brubeck
  • 1966 My Favorite Things
  • 1966 Time In
  • 1966 Anything Goes: The Music of Cole Porter
  • 1967 Bravo! Brubeck!
  • 1967 Right Now!
  • 1967 The Last Time We Saw Paris
  • 1968 Jackpot!
  • 1971 Summit Sessions
  • 1972 Adventures in Time
  • 1973 On Campus
  • 1976 25th Anniversary Reunion
  • 1988 The Great Concerts: Amsterdam Copenhagen Carnegie Hall
  • 1991 Live (1956-1957)
  • 1992 Live (1954 and 1959)
  • 1993 Someday My Prince Will Come
  • 1993 St. Louis Blues

With Gary Burton

With Tal Farlow

  • 1954 Tal Farlow Quartet
  • 1955 The Tal Farlow Album

With Marian McPartland

  • 1952 Lullaby of Birdland
  • 1955 Marian McPartland in Concert
  • 1956 After Dark
  • 1957 The Marian McPartland Trio
  • 2002 Live at Shanghai Jazz
  • 2003 All My Life

With Gil Melle;

With Sal Salvador

  • 1956 Shades of Sal Salvador
  • Juicy Lucy (Bee Hive, 1978)

With Chuck Wayne

  • 1953 Tasty Pudding
  • 1956 The Jazz Guitarist

With others

  • 1954 Jimmy Raney Quintet, Jimmy Raney
  • 1955 Blues and Other Shades of Green, Urbie Green
  • 1957 Dream of You, Helen Merrill
  • 1957 Mr. Roberts Plays Guitar, Howard Roberts
  • 1958 Sweet Paul Vol. 1 Paul Desmond
  • 1961 Jazz Winds from a New Direction, Hank Garland
  • 1977 Early Art, Art Pepper
  • 1979 The Big Apple Bash, Jay McShann
  • 1994 Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich, Buddy Rich Big Band
  • 1994 The Gamut, Robert Hohner
  • 1995 Two Facets of Louis: 1920-1950, Louis Armstrong
  • 1997 Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich Vol. 2, Buddy Rich Big Band
  • 2000 Chega de Saudade, Stan Getz
  • 2007 Sings the Ultimate American Songbook Vol. 1, Tony Bennett[6]


  • Joe Morello - Drum Method 1: The Natural approach to Technique (DVD) Hot Licks 2006
  • Joe Morello - Drum Method 2: Around the Kit (DVD) Hot Licks 2006
  • Joe Morello, Danny Gottlieb: Natural Drumming Lessons 1&2 (DVD) Mel Bay Publications, Inc. 2005
  • Joe Morello, Danny Gottlieb: Natural Drumming Lessons 3&4 (DVD) Mel Bay Publications, Inc. 2006
  • Joe Morello, Danny Gottlieb: Natural Drumming Lessons 5&6 (DVD) Mel Bay Publications, Inc. 2006
  • The Art of Playing with Brushes (DVD) Hudson Music LLC 2007


  • New Directions in Rhythm: Studies in 3/4 and 5/4 Time 1963
  • Off the Record: A Collection of Famous Drum Solos 1966
  • Rudimental Jazz: A Modern Application of Rudiments to the Drum Outfit 1967
  • Master Studies: Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique Modern Drummer Publications, Inc. 1983
  • Master Studies II: More Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique Modern Drummer Publications, Inc. 2006
  • Rudimental Jazz: A Musical Application of Rudiments to the Drumset including CD, Modern Drummer Publications, Classics Series 2010


  1. ^ a b Smith, Steve (March 13, 2011). "Joe Morello, Drummer with Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dies at 82". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Joe Morello". The Daily Telegraph. London. March 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Joe Morello: TIP Lifetime Achievement Award" June 3, 2010 Hudson Music News posted June 15, 2010 Retrieved March 13, 2010
  4. ^ "Jazz Drummer Joe Morello, Of 'Take Five' Fame, Dies At 82". 
  5. ^ "Joe Morello". Drummer World. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ "Joe Morello | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017. 

External links

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