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Sat, 05.14.1898

Zutty Singleton, a specialist on drums

Zutty Singleton

On this date in 1898, Zutty Singleton was born. He was an African American drummer and band leader.

He was born in Bunkie, LA, and moved to New Orleans when he was ten years old. Zutty Singleton was one of the most influential drummers of early jazz. He popularized the use of brushes and drums solos in jazz and had some of the best technique of the era. Zutty got his start at the Rosebud Theater in New Orleans with Steve Lewis in 1915 when he was fifteen. During World War I he went to Europe to fight and was wounded while in the Navy.

He played in several bands in New Orleans after the war, including with Papa Celestin, Luis Russell, and with Fate Marable on the riverboats. He moved up to St. Louis to play with Charlie Creath and married his sister Marge. He moved back to New Orleans for a year and then moved to Chicago where he worked with Doc Cooke and others. While in Chicago, he and Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines tried to open a club, but it was unsuccessful. Zutty played on several of the Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five sides, including "A Monday Date," where Armstrong says, "Come on Zutty, whip those cymbals Pops!"

In 1931 he moved to New York City to play with Fats Waller. Throughout the Depression, Singleton managed to keep working, often in traveling vaudeville shows. In 1933, he moved back to Chicago and joined Carroll Dickerson at the Grand Terrace. Throughout the rest of the 1930s, he played with a number of bands, including those led by Roy Eldridge, Mezz Mezzrow, and Sidney Bechet. In 1941, he moved to Los Angeles and led or played in a series of bands there.

He continued to play up until he retired in 1970 after suffering from a stroke. Zutty Singleton died in New York in 1976.

Reference:
Jazz People
by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York
Copyright 1976
ISBN 0-8109-1152-3

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