Jim Black – A Jazz Drum King

Jim Black was born on August 3, 1967. He is one of the best drummers leading the new generation of jazz musicians. If you thought jazz was dying in the 21st century, think again as drummers such as Jim are ensuring a smooth transition into the modern era.

Jim Black is one of the longest influential drummers in the world. He also leads one of the most diverse bands called AlasNoAxis, alongside his longtime collaborators Chris Speed, Hilmar Jensen, and Skuli Sverrisson. Black set his strong foundation with a virtuosic and yet highly personalized style in jazz music. But that is not all; his aesthetic has stretched to include Balkan moves, rock songcraft, and laptop landscapes.

Jim Black
Jim Black

The drummer has created a name for himself across the world for his technique and futuristic ideas.  These are some of the factors that most listeners love in many of his works. They offer a persistent joyful feeling and an invention of his performances.  

Black has been part of the team incorporating new sounds and methods in creating jazz since the 90s. There has been a chance for him to offer the world something more than just his sweet moves. Music is diverse and keeps changing with every generation.  Black has worked hard to ensure the world embraces jazz with its new techniques and approaches.

James Black was a member of the collective group Pachora, which included Speed, Sverrisson, and Brad Shepik (on the guitar). He was among the leaders in the study of Balkan music and its adaptation in jazz.   The drummer uses advanced techniques that abstract the traditional time signatures from Balkan in the modern polyrhythmic technique that has taken over the jazz world. The drum, bass, and dumbeks of the Balkans have been cleverly incorporated.

Black is also an innovator. He has been using electronics to improvise and close the difference between electro-acoustic improv and more traditional jazz approaches.  With this, he makes sure the transition to the new era of music is efficient. Currently, the drummer delivers many performances that are common in his laptop-oriented electronic textures, as seen in his drumming.

Jim Black Perfroming
Jim Black Perfroming

James was born in Seattle, where he lived with his would-be colleagues Chris Speed, Andrew D’Angelo, and Cuong Vu. They worked together in cementing their personal and music relationships while working in various youth ensembles. He shifted to Boston to join the Berklee School of Music. The trio formed a group called Human Feel with guitar player Kurt Rosenwinkel. The band quickly grew to attract jazz legends in Boston, New York, and many other places.

Black and some of the members from the band moved back to New York City. It filled the Downtown music scene, becoming one of the best sidemen in the city. In New York, Jim Black started taking featured tasks in most top brands, including Bloodcount by Tim Bernie and Tiny Ball Trio by Dave Douglas. With that, he had set in motion his 15 years of touring and recording.  He moved with these bands and with top artists like Uri Caine, Nels Cline, and Steve Coleman, among others.

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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