Eric Kamau Grávátt

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b. Eric Kamau Gravatt, c. 1938, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. A highly accomplished drummer, Grávátt recorded with several artists from the mid-60s, including Byard Lancaster, Lloyd McNeill, Andrew…
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b. Eric Kamau Gravatt, c. 1938, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. A highly accomplished drummer, Grávátt recorded with several artists from the mid-60s, including Byard Lancaster, Lloyd McNeill, Andrew White, Terumasa Hino, Eddie Henderson, and Joe Henderson. He also taught, including spells in the late 60s with a Philadelphia students’ Symphony Orchestra, and in Washington, DC at the New Thing Art & Architecture Center and with the African Heritage Dancers & Drummers. Grávátt first attracted worldwide attention with Weather Report, appearing on 1972’s I Sing The Body Electric and Live In Tokyo, on which he vividly demonstrates the ferociously intense style that so impressed live audiences. During the making of the group’s 1973’s Sweetnighter things began to go awry for Grávátt. Some of the music on this album was not to his liking and he decided to leave Weather Report and joined the Minneapolis-based Natural Life in which Bobby Peterson and Bob Rockwell were members. This was in 1974, and Grávátt stayed in the area, occasionally playing gigs and even less frequently making records, such as McCoy Tyner’s Focal Point on Milestone Records in 1977, but chiefly working as a prison guard.

In interviews Grávátt always insisted that although he was disappointed with the manner in which the business of jazz had forced him into working outside music in order that he and his family could survive, he felt no bitterness. During these years he played a few gigs with his band Source Code, which included Dean Brewington (saxophone), David Hagedorn (vibraphone), Dave Leigh (trombone) and Ron Evaniuk (bass). He also recorded with Bill Carrothers on 1986’s The Artful Dodger. After retiring from the prison service, Grávátt also taught, ran a recording studio and a publishing company, 1619 Music. Then, in 2004, he toured with Tyner’s big band and two years after this moved back to Philadelphia where he worked in a trio with Tyner and Charnett Moffett, garnering rave reviews and performing at prestigious festivals in the USA and overseas.