A realist of jazz, Eric Gravatt
*Eric Gravatt was born on this date in 1947. He is an African American musician, educator and world-renowned drummer and percussionist..
From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eric Kamau Gravatt is the only child of Clifford and Margo Gravatt. He graduated from Germantown H.S. in 1965 and has attended Cheyney State College, Temple University, Howard University and the University of Minnesota.
He has recorded with several artists from the mid-60s, including Byard Lancaster, Lloyd McNeill, Andrew White, Terumasa Hino, Eddie Henderson, and Joe Henderson. As an educator, he also taught at the Philadelphia students' Symphony Orchestra, at the New Thing Art & Architecture Center in Washington, DC and with the African Heritage Dancers & Drummers.
He has played with many of the greatest musicians and bands of jazz including Woody Shaw, Howard Roberts, Albert Ayler, Sonny Fortune, Kenny Dorham, Gary Batz and more. Gravatt’s career attracted worldwide attention while he played with Weather Report, beginning with 1972's I Sing The Body Electric. After the making of the group's 1973's Sweetnighter he decided to leave Weather Report and joined the group Natural Life in 1974.
Since then Gravatt moved to the Minneapolis where he continued to play; he recorded with McCoy Tyner's Focal Point in 1977 and worked as a prison guard. He has always insisted that although he was disappointed with the manner in which the business of jazz had forced him into working outside music in order that he and his family could survive, he felt no bitterness. During these years he played with his band Source Code. He also recorded with Bill Carrothers on 1986's The Artful Dodger.
After retiring from working in the prison system, Gravatt currently runs a recording studio, directs a group “Source Code” and a publishing company, 1619 Music. In 2004, he toured with Tyner's big band and two years after this moved back to Philadelphia where he worked in a trio with Tyner and Charnett Moffett, garnering rave reviews and performing at prestigious festivals in the USA and overseas.
He has lectured at Georgetown Day School, the Children’s Theater Company, Swarthmore College and more.
African American Registry
Black Box interview with Eric Gravatt, 2009
Today in American History