Legendary drummer Alphonse Mouzon dies at age 68
We are sad today to inform Soul Trackers of the death of legendary jazz drummer Alphonse Mouzon, after a battle with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. He was 68. It was just over two months ago that Mouzon was informed of the severity of his illness, and was hospitalized. During his career, Mouzon was known as one of the world’s greatest drummers, and he worked with many of the most notable artists in both soul and jazz.
Mouzon was born on November 21, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, and received his first musical training at Bonds-Wilson High School. He then moved to New York City upon graduation, and studied drama and music at the City College of New York as well as medicine at Manhattan Medical School. Mouzon continued receiving drum lessons from Bobby Thomas, the drummer for jazz pianist Billy Taylor, and played percussion in the Broadway show “Promises, Promises.” He then worked with pianist McCoy Tyner, and spent a year as a member of the jazz fusion band, Weather Report. After that Mouzon signed as a solo artist to the Blue Note label in 1972.
Mouzon’s visibility increased with his tenure with guitarist Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House fusion band from 1973 to 1975, working on such albums as Introducing the Eleventh House, and Level One. From 1972-76, he recorded a series of R&B albums on Blue Note Records, including The Essence Of Mystery, Funky Snakefoot and The Man Incognito, returning in the 1980s with By All Means, featuring Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, Seawind Horns and Freddie Hubbard.
Alphonse Mouzon also played and/or recorded with many of the active musicians of the jazz-fusion genre. In 1991, he performed with Miles Davis on the movie soundtrack album entitled Dingo. Mouzon composed the song “The Blue Spot” for the jazz club scene and appeared as an actor and drummer in the Tom Hanks-directed film, That Thing You Do in 1996. Alphonse Mouzon played the role of “Miles” in the film The Highlife, which was exhibited at a film festival in Houston in 2003. He also can be seen with Michael Keaton and Katie Holmes in the film First Daughter, and as ‘Ray” in the movie The Dukes, along with Robert Davi, Chazz Palminteri and Peter Bogdanovich.
Mouzon has also played with Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Patrick Moraz, Betty Davis and Chubby Checker. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), during his acceptance speech for induction into the 1995 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, listed Alphonse Mouzon as one of the band’s influences from American music.
In 1992 Alphonse Mouzon formed Tenacious Records and, also in 1992, released his CD entitled The Survivor. Subsequent releases on Tenacious Records include On Top of the World, Early Spring, By All Means, Love Fantasy, Back to Jazz, As You Wish, The Night is Still Young, The Sky is the Limit, Distant Lover, Morning Sun, and Absolute Greatest Love Songs and Ballads.
Alphonse Mouzon last contacted us a few months ago to tell us in advance about his planned album called High Noon. He remained both active and engaged in the music community throughout 2016, even as he battled the dreaded illness. His legacy of greatness will remain and will be celebrated by soul, R&B and jazz fans for years to come. Rest in peace, Alphonse.