Bill Exiner

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William Exiner might be considered the ultimate lounge kind of guy, based on the solid criteria of having played drums for Tony Bennett in the '50s. The drummer was more often credited less formally as…
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William Exiner might be considered the ultimate lounge kind of guy, based on the solid criteria of having played drums for Tony Bennett in the '50s. The drummer was more often credited less formally as Bill Exiner -- but not by critic Leonard Feather, who described Exiner as a "simple, underrated modern drummer" in The Encyclopedia of Jazz. The professional origins of the Brooklyn jazzman are wafting on the breezes of obscurity: Feather name-checks the drummer as part of the '30s swing scene at New York City's Onyx Club, but only in reference to the combo that played opposite whatever forgotten one Exiner was actually in.

Vocal music fans might be more likely to come across a side with Exiner setting the rhythmic pace than jazz listeners, although the highly syncopated, impressionistic, and improvisational styles of both the aforementioned Tony Bennett and the wonderful Peggy Lee are certainly examples of an overlap between these genres. One of Exiner's albums with Bennett is even entitled Jazz. Exiner performed and recorded with Lee from 1947 through 1949, following stints with classic jazz bandleaders such as Harry James and Georgie Auld, among others. His brushwork, as gentle as the hand of a suitor, may have also helped guide those very hands on vintage Johnny Mathis make-out discs.