Joe Morello, the longtime drummer of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, one of the most popular jazz combos of the ’50s and ’60s, has died. He was 82.
Family members told the Associated Press that Morello died at his home in northern New Jersey on March 12. No cause of death was immediately reported.
A player of great delicacy and rhythmic acumen, Morello anchored pianist Brubeck’s commercially successful unit from 1956 until the quartet disbanded in 1967. He was charged with executing the challenging time signatures of Brubeck hits like “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk.”
Born in Springfield, Mass., Morello took up drumming after studying violin as a child. After moving to New York in 1952, he played with Phil Wood, Stan Kenton and Gil Melle.
He served as pianist Marian McPartland’s drummer from 1953-56 and also recorded with guitarists Tal Farlow and Jimmy Raney and the duo of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.
Morello recorded prolifically with Brubeck, whose quartet also included saxophonist Paul Desmond and bassist Eugene Wright. The band’s albums “Time Out” (1960) and “Time Further Out” (1961) reached the national top five. In all, he appeared on 14 Brubeck LPs that reached the charts.
In later years, Morello was known primarily as an instructor and toured on the behalf of the Ludwig drum company. He reunited with Brubeck in 1976 and McPartland in 1977.