Al Drootin

Biography by

Al Drootin, a classic jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist who recorded very little, was born in the United States, Boston to be more precise; unlike brother Buzzy Drootin who was born in the Ukraine,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Al Drootin, a classic jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist who recorded very little, was born in the United States, Boston to be more precise; unlike brother Buzzy Drootin who was born in the Ukraine, Kiev to be exact. Such precision is not always available in discussions of the Drootin family, who have turned the running of swing bands into a kind of dynasty. The year commonly given for Al Drootin's birth, 1916, seems somewhat at odds with the year given for the hatching of Buzzy in Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz: even that approximation of 1920 seems way off considering that Al was supposed to have been born after the family moved to the United States, Buzz before, and not the other way around.

The brothers worked together on more than one occasion. They overlap on what there is of Al's discography, a pair of sides made in the '50s with a group, fully loaded with Drootin, that trumpeter Ruby Braff was using for both performances and recordings. The siblings started their own Drootin Brothers Jazz Band in Boston in the early '70s. Al continued running the band, which does not seem to be represented on recordings. In the new millennium, Al's son Sonny Drootin has continued running versions of the group based out of both Boston and Palm Beach.