b. 1 February 1940, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 30 August 1988, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Born into a musical family, Black studied music at Southern University, Baton Rouge, and also drummed in the quintessential training ground for New Orleans rhythm, a marching band. His first professional break came with an R&B outfit in 1958. He replaced Ed Blackwell in Ellis Marsalis’ band when Blackwell left to join Ornette Coleman in California. In the early 60s he relocated to New York with R&B singer Joe Jones and toured with Lionel Hampton. It is Black playing drums on the Dixie Cups’ ‘Chapel Of Love’. He played and recorded with Cannonball Adderley, Yusef Lateef and Horace Silver. If Black had not subsequently returned to New Orleans (working with artists including Professor Longhair, the Meters, Fats Domino and Lee Dorsey), his unerring beat - funky but free - would have made him a big name in jazz. He led his own group, the James Black Ensemble, but attempts to record a studio album with this unit never bore fruition. Black died of a drug overdose in August 1988.
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