[Dixielandjazz] Drummer bobby Durham Obit.

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 11 08:37:29 PDT 2008

Bobby Durham was born in Philadelphia and one of his daughters lives  
Steve Barbone

July 11, 2008 - TIMES - by Dennis Hevesi
Bobby Durham, 71, Drummer who Played With Jazz Greats, Dies.

Bobby Durham, a drummer whose precise, understated style made him much  
sought after as a sideman by jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Lionel  
Hampton, Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald, died Monday in Genoa,  
Italy. He was 71 and had homes near Genoa and Basel, Switzerland.

The cause was lung cancer, said Sandra Fuller, a friend.

Mr. Durham was probably best known for his trio work, from 1966 to  
1971, with Peterson at the piano and Ray Brown playing bass. He also  
drew significant notice from 1973 to 1980 as an accompanist to  

“One of his specialties was brushes,” said Dan Morgenstern, director  
of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, referring to  
soft-stroke wire drumsticks.

“It’s important when you work with a singer that you play sensitively,  
that you don’t overwhelm,” Mr. Morgenstern said.

But Mr. Durham, he said, “was also capable of playing really good  
extended solos.”

Mr. Morgenstern’s assessment echoed one in 1980 by John S. Wilson,  
writing in The New York Times about Mr. Durham’s performance with the  
organist Shirley Scott and the tenor saxophonist Harold Vick.

Mr. Durham “makes his presence felt without being obtrusive,” Mr.  
Wilson wrote.

“He steps forward occasionally with brief, rollicking statements that  
add sparkle to the group, and he feeds crisp breaks to Mr. Vick,” Mr.  
Wilson added. “When he finally takes a solo, he builds a steady,  
controlled development that never gives way to gratuitous flashiness.”

Besides playing with jazz greats like Hampton, in 1962, and Ellington,  
in 1966, Mr. Durham made recordings with, among others, the trumpeters  
Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge, the pianist Tommy Flanagan, the  
guitarist Joe Pass and the alto saxophonist Benny Carter.

One of Mr. Durham’s specialties, with brush sticks softly in play, was  
scat singing.

Robert Joseph Durham was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 3, 1937. His  
father was a professional tap dancer, and Bobby was taught to tap at  
the age of 2. He started playing drums with his junior high school  
band; by 16 he was playing professionally with a group called the  
Orioles. His next big gig was with a Marine Corps band, from 1956 to  

Leading his own trio, Mr. Durham performed all over the world. “I  
played everywhere but Russia, Alaska and Arabia,” he said in a profile  
in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz.

Mr. Durham’s wife, the former Betsy Perkins, died in 1996. He is  
survived by two daughters, Valarie Ahrar of Philadelphia and Robbin  
Carver of Woodbury, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

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