Note(s)Sonny Greer (1895-1982) was an American drummer who started his career by playing locally in New Jersey bands. In 1919 he met Duke Ellington while playing in the Howard Theatre Orchestra in Washington D.C. Greer came to New York as a member of banjoist Howard Snowden’s band and joined Ellington’s five piece outfit called the Washingtonians. In his long stay with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, Greer was known for developing a unique sound by using an array of objects to produce exotic effects which added to the “jungle” sounds Ellington devised for their residency at New York’s Cotton Club in the late 1920s. After leaving Ellington in 1951, he became a free-lance drummer and played with a number of musicians including Johnny Hodges, Louis Metcalf, Henry “Red” Allen (1952–3), Garvin Bushell (mid-1950s), and Tyree Glenn (1959), and in the 1960s with Eddie Barefield and J. C. Higginbotham. In the late 60s he led his own band at the Garden Cafe, New York, and took part in the film The Night They Raided Minsky’s. He also regularly played in pianist Brooks Kerr’s trio during the 1970s, and continued to work until shortly before his death.
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Organization NameRutgers University. Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University. Institute of Jazz Studies
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