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In Memoriam: Alphonse Mouzon

by PAS | Jan 04, 2017
Mouzon-webDrummer Alphonse Mouzon died on December 25, 2016. In the 1970s, along with Billy Cobham and Lenny White, Mouzon helped fashion a jazz-rock, or “fusion,” style of drumming by combining the volume, rhythms, and energy of rock playing with the polyrhythms, techniques, and finesse of jazz. 
Born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, Mouzon started working professionally as a drummer at age 12. He moved to New York in 1966, first working with a society band and then playing for the Broadway production of the Hal David and Burt Bacharach musical Promises, Promises. He also worked with vibist Roy Ayres and singer Roberta Flack. In 1970, after playing on a recording by saxophonist Wayne Shorter, he became a founding member of Weather Report with Shorter, keyboardist Joe Zawinul, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and percussionist Airto Moreira. He then worked with pianist McCoy Tyner and flutist Bobbi Humphrey before joining guitarist Larry Coryell’s group The Eleventh House, with whom he played from 1973–75. 

In 1974 he released the first of his two dozen solo albums, Mind Transplant, and over the next few years he led his own groups and also played and/or recorded with such artists as guitarists Al DiMeola and George Benson, bassist Jaco Pastorius, flutist Hubert Laws, trumpeter Miles Davis, and pianist Herbie Hancock. 

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Mouzon led a disco group called Poussez, which had club hits with “Come On and Do It” and “Boogie With Me.” The title track of his second album, Funky Snakefoot, was later used as the opening drum fill for the Beastie Boys’ “Shake Your Rump.” 

Mouzon’s most recent release, Angel Face, released in 2011, featured pianist Kenny Barron. Earlier in 2016 he joined Coryell in a reunion of the Eleventh House; the group subsequently released an album titled Seven Secrets.

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