Grady Tate  

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Grady Bernard Tate (January 14, 1932 – October 8, 2017) was an American jazz and soul-jazz drummer and baritone vocalist. In addition to his work as sideman, Tate released many albums as leader and lent his voice to songs in the animated Schoolhouse Rock! series.



Tate was born in Hayti, Durham, North Carolina. In 1963 he moved to New York City, where he became the drummer in Quincy Jones's band.

Grady Tate's drumming helped to define a particular hard bop, soul jazz and organ trio sound during the mid-1960s and beyond. His slick, layered and intense sound is instantly recognizable for its understated style in which he integrates his trademark subtle nuances with sharp, crisp "on top of the beat" timing (in comparison to playing slightly before, or slightly after the beat). The Grady Tate sound can be heard prominently on many of the classic Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery albums recorded on the Verve label in the 1960s.

During the 1970s he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet. In 1981 he played drums and percussion for Simon and Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park.

As a sideman he has played with musicians including Jimmy Smith, Astrud Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Wes Montgomery, and Michel Legrand.

Among his most widely heard vocal performances are the songs "I Got Six", "Naughty Number Nine", and "Fireworks" from Multiplication Rock and America Rock, both part of the Schoolhouse Rock series. For the 1973 motion picture Cops And Robbers, Tate sang the title song, written by Michel Legrand and Jacques Wilson. On Mark Murphy's album Living Room, Tate shares the vocals on a medley of "Misty" and "Midnight Sun".

He joined the faculty of Howard University in 1989.

Grady Tate died of complications of Alzheimer's on October 8, 2017 at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife Vivian and son Grady, Jr.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Grady Tate among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.


As leader

  • Windmills of My Mind (Skye, 1968)
  • Slaves (Skye, 1969)
  • Feeling Life (Skye, 1969)
  • After the Long Drive Home (Skye, 1970)
  • She Is My Lady (Janus, 1972)
  • Movin' Day (Janus, 1974)
  • TNT (Milestone, 1991)
  • Body & Soul (Milestone, 1993)
  • Feeling Free (Pow Wow, 1999)
  • All Love (Eighty-Eight's, 2002)
  • From the Heart: Songs Sung Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2006)

As sideman

With Benny Bailey

With Ray Bryant

With Kenny Burrell

With Johnny Hodges

With J. J. Johnson

With Quincy Jones

With Oliver Nelson

With Houston Person

With Jimmy Rushing

With Lalo Schifrin

With Zoot Sims

With Jimmy Smith

With Billy Taylor

With Cal Tjader

With others

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