Top 3 Greatest Living Jazz Drummers


Pioneer Member
Oh man, this such a loaded question!!!

1. Nasheet Waits

2. Eric McPherson

3. Billy Hart

Obviously Roy and Jack SHOULD be on my list, but theyre just a given IMO.


Senior Member
Clayton Cameron deserves a mention in any short list

Louis Burdett was the best freeform player I've ever seen

got no #3


Good to see Ignacio Berroa mentioned here. I had the privilege to see his quartet here in Sacramento, sat right in front of him. What an experience!
I love Nasheet Waits, McPherson and Jabali Billy Hart. Great list of guys who don't really get enough recognition.

I will name 3 guys in the under 35 crowd who deserve wider recognition:

1. Marcus Gilmore - his work on Vijay Iyer's new record is stunning. Also his playing with Mark Turner's quartet, what a band. Everything Marcus plays, he seems to approach with the larger musical statement of the ensemble at the forefront of his mind. He also seems to have a vast imagination that draws from the well of the tradition (created in no small part by his grandfather Haynes) without ever resorting to licks or cliches. Totally inspiring to listen to his work.

2. Dan Weiss - another guy who has absorbed music from several cultures, particularly Indian classical, as he is an accomplished tabla player. His work with David Binney showcases his fluency in the language of traditional and contemporary jazz as well as various styles of straight 8th and 16th based music. That group really explores a wide pallette of influences on their several recordings and is always surprising and engaging. -Dan Weiss's own trio has also put out 2 very good albums - I hope for another one soon.

3. Justin Brown - has shown great ability in a number of diverse musical environments. He has played with Vijay Iyer and recorded with trumpeter Brian Lynch on his"Con Clave vol.2 album. He has also explored with afro-cuban and yoruba based music with Cuban saxophonist and shekere master Yosvany Terry. He is part of the young pianist Gerald Clayton's exciting trio with Joe Sanders on bass, a group that has put out 2 records that are really exciting. His playing on Ambrose Akinmusire's latest record "When the Heart Emerges Glistening" really showcases his diverse talents. One track on the record entitled "My name is Oscar Grant" is essentially an explosive yet musical drum solo set against a background of spoken word.


Silver Member
OK, Like 8Mile, I put Roy at the top for his contributions, not just virtuosity. But the rest of the list is tough. Here's the "Easy" list, and I thoroughly agree with 8Mile's description:

1) Roy Haynes
2) Jack DeJohnette
3) Jimmy Cobb

But I would also interchange any of the other two with:

Andrew Cyrille- scary intensity at the highest playing level, has played with Cecil Taylor, Coltrane and Albert Ayler.

Joe Chambers- has played with Miles, Andrew Hill, Joe Henderson and Max Roach's M'Boom plus many other greats. He has a great, crisp, authoritative sound. Very underrated.

Louis Hayes. I mainly know his playing with McCoy Tyner, but he's right up there with the best.

Ben Riley- Anything with Monk.

Charlie Persip- Killer playing with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Great brush playing.

Ronald Shannon Jackson- If you can find his record "Pulse" anywhere, buy it. Also stuff with Ornette Coleman's Prime Time, his Decoding Society stuff, anything with Cecil Taylor.

I'm starting to run out of descriptive steam. But each one of these players is a university of study:

Billy Hart, Smitty Smith, Jeff Hamilton, Idris Muhammad, Bob Gullotti, Cleve Pozar, Bob Moses, Johnny Vidacovich, Butch Miles, Peter Erskine, Arghh! I hate these lists! I know I'm leaving a bunch of Greats out!



Sorry I have 5 :
1. Brian Blade,
2. Roy Haynes,
3. Joey Baron, Bill Stewart ex-aequo
+ Jack DeJohnette although I'm not such a big fan I have to admit he's part of the history.

Billy Boy

Junior Member
I was thinking drummers who are from the older generation... certainly others who are of the same caliber include:

Jack Dejohnette
Jimmy Cobb
Joe Chambers
Idris Muhammad


Pioneer Member
I love Nasheet Waits, McPherson and Jabali Billy Hart. Great list of guys who don't really get enough recognition.

I will name 3 guys in the under 35 crowd who deserve wider recognition:

1. Marcus Gilmore -

2. Dan Weiss -
Marcus Gilmore is just unreal. His approach to the drum-set is really something innovating and exciting to me. HUGE fan.

And Dan Weiss: "Always Be Closing", the track from the last trio cd with the dialogue from Glengarry Glenross blew me away the first time I heard it (continues to so) and his compositions in general are inspiring.

I wanna throw out two more younger dudes.

Tyshawn Sorey, dude is a genius. No seriously. On a different level of human existence.

Gerald Cleaver, so tasteful and elegant, yet he can get so raw and gnarly (take for instance the examples of his work with Jeremy Pelt and then Farmers By Nature w/ Craig Taborn and William Parker. Totally different situations, but an absolute musical mastery of both.)


Junior Member
LOL, my bad, sorry guys... but, Tony Williams, Buddy Rich, Joe Morello and many others are still pretty alive in the music they played and they're still a model for many jazz drummers today, does that count? :))
good point. their recordings make them still present. and excellent choices