(1909 - 1981)
the rudimental approach to jazz, and among the very few whose style evolved and spanned a
number of eras. Through it all, listeners could hear virtually all of the 26 rudiments--flam taps,
five-stroke rolls, paradiddles and more- applied directly to jazz drumming.
He was a life-long student of the drums as well, studying at Julliard in the mid-1940s, with the
New York Philharmonic's Saul Goodman, and opening his own drum school with dear friend
Gene Krupa in New York in the mid-1950s. Most of his long career was as a sideman for
such leaders as; Willie Bryant, (the suave, Un-Official Mayor of Harlem), Cab Calloway,
Lionel Hampton and Louis Armstrong. Even before these, Cozy had played with Benny
Carter's first (and un-successful) band. That band also had such un-known names as Teddy
Wilson (piano); Chu Berry (tenor sax) and a young trombonist named Dickie Wells.
Almost with complete silence, Cozy broke many of the racial barriers in music. He was the first
black musician on a network musical staff. CBS radio hired him to work with Raymond Scott
in 1943. In 1985, Scott recalled, "Cozy was the most professional musician I've ever worked
with." Cozy played a wildly rhythmic drum solo in the stage show "Carmen Jones" in 1943
saying, "I think I'm the only drummer to have been featured in a big Broadway show with his
name on the program." In 1944, Benny Goodman and Cozy lead a small group at the Onyx
Club in New York. His band began to tour and occasionally recorded. In the short times
between the touring, Cozy also went off as a soloist to tour Europe along side Jack Teagarden
and Earl Hines.
In 1953, Gene Krupa and Cozy formed The Krupa And Cole Drum School in New York.
"The more you study," Cozy said, "the more you find out you don't know; but the more you
study, the closer you come." The school was a great success and remained in operation until
Krupa's death in 1973. The Cozy Cole Combo played the Metropole in New York and
recorded a million selling version of "Topsy" in 1958. His group also recorded other notable tunes such as, "Jersey Jump-Off," "Willow Weep For Me," and "Night Wind."
During the 1960's he joined up with his long time friend Jonah Jones. Jones and Cozy played
with Stuff Smith and Cab Calloway in the early days and reunited to tour and record. The team
remained active throughout the 1970's. In 1978 Cozy was given an honorary degree of Doctor
of Musical Arts at Capital University in Columbus. After his retirement, Cozy gained his degree
at the same college in lecturer studies. Cozy Cole died at the age of 71 in Columbus January
"Cozy was like my brother. He was the most wonderful person I ever met. I first met him in
1936. I was new to New York and Cozy, being from New Jersey, showed me all around. In
those days Harlem was full of great musicians and I was having a difficult time, because no one
knew me. But old Cozy, he saw to it that I was offered jobs. One time Teddy Wilson offered
Cozy a gig to record with some new singer. Cozy told Teddy that he would only take the job if
Teddy hired me. That was how nice Cozy was. When Cozy and I got down there with Teddy,
we met Johnny Hodges and that young singer's name was Billie Holiday. Cozy was one of a
kind. There'll never be another Cozy, that is for sure."
Source: Jonah Jones, 1996.