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  Alan Dawson


Filed under:
BIRTHDAY
Event Date:
Saturday, July 14, 2018 (This event repeats every year)
Article:
Alan Dawson

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Alan Dawson

Legendary drummer and educator George "Alan" Dawson was born on July 14, 1929 in Marietta, Pennsylvania, spending the majority of his growing years in the Roxbury neighborhood (Boston, Mass) which was also the home of drummer, Roy Haynes.

As a teenager, Alan Dawson studied drumset with percussionist Charles Alden for more than four years before serving in the military (Army) during the Korean War in his early 20's. During this time, 1951-1953, Alan played with the Army Dance Band stationed at Fort Dix where he was able to explore the post-bop jazz era by performing with pianist Sabby Lewis and his eight piece orchestra. After his release from duty in the Army, Alan started working with the legendary drummer/vibraphonist Lionel Hampton for a three-month European tour.

In 1954, Alan returned to Boston where he maintained an active recording career, taking brief breaks to tour and give drum clinics. Although his goals were centered more around performing, Alan began teaching privately, more of an informal impartation at first, but formally when taking on a young drummer named Tony Williams as his student. It was in 1957, the same year that Alan became the house drummer at Wally's Paradise in Boston, that he began what turned into an eighteen-year teaching association at the Berklee College of Music. Soon after Dawson was also performing with John and Paul Neves, and worked with Herb Pomeroy at the Stables from 1959-1960.

Alan was the house drummer at Lennie's On The Turnpike, in Peabody, MA from 1963-1970 where he had the opportunity to perform and record with some of the leading jazz artists of the time. There were a substantial number of recordings made at Lennie's for Prestige Records (1963-68) with Alan on drums, Jakie Byard on piano, George Tucker on bass, and Joe Farrel on woodwinds. One famed recording from this period is The Jaki Byard Quartet Live! Alan Dawson quickly became Boston's premier drummer of choice, not only for local players but touring jazz giants as well. New York in the 1960's was clearly a time when Alan's recording experiences shifted into high gear; playing drums for saxophonist Booker Ervin's The Freedom Book. In 1968 Alan took over the drum chair with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, replacing Joe Morello, and toured with Brubeck's family band, Two Generations of Brubeck.

In 1975, Alan suffered a ruptured disc which required surgery. This ended his touring days, including his work with Brubeck, and his tenure at Berklee. Maintaining a more relaxed lifestyle, Alan returned to limited teaching via private instruction at his home in Lexington (a suburb of Boston) and formed a quartet with fellow Berklee faculty members; saxophonist Bill Pierce, bassist Richard Reid, and pianist James Williams.

Alan Dawson's performance credits include the likes of Dave Brubeck, Jaki Byard, Booker Ervin, Tal Farlow, Frank Foster, Terry Gibbs, Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, Earl Hines, Hank Jones, Quincy Jones, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles McPhereson, Charles Mingus, Frank Morgan, Phineas Newborn, Oscar Peterson, Woody Shaw, George Shearing, Sonny Stitt, James Williams, Phil Wilson, Teddy Wilson, Phil Woods, Reggie Workman and many others.