b. 13 May 1941, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Taking up the drums in his teens, Von Ohlen’s first major job was with Billy Maxted’s Manhattan Jazz Band which he joined in 1967. The following year he played with Woody Herman and then joined Stan Kenton. He was with the Kenton band for two years before settling in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he formed a big band to play at the Blue Wisp club. The band included several highly talented young musicians, such as pianist Steve Schmidt and trumpeters Al Kiger and Tim Hagans. Extensively recorded by Helen Y. Morr of the Cincinnati-based MoPro Records, the Blue Wisp Big Band is an exceptionally fine example of an American rehearsal band. Although Von Ohlen’s international reputation rests largely upon his former association with Kenton, his playing with his own big band and with small groups assembled especially for record sessions or to accompany such visiting jazzmen as Cal Collins and Bill Berry, shows him to be a versatile drummer capable of great sensitivity and unflagging swing.
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