Sam Lovett

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The stage name of Baby Lovett sounds like the idle cooing of new parents; this drummer was also credited as Sam Lovett plenty of times during a career that began in one jazz mecca and ended in another,…
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The stage name of Baby Lovett sounds like the idle cooing of new parents; this drummer was also credited as Sam Lovett plenty of times during a career that began in one jazz mecca and ended in another, New Orleans and Kansas City, respectively. Lovett went to the latter city originally as a percussionist for silent films, but quickly became involved with many of that city's major figures in jazz. He was the substitute drummer for Count Basie's right-hand man, Jo Jones. He also held forth regularly with the famous Pete Johnson at the infamously rowdy Sunset Club, and was associated with other Kansas City jazz legends such as vocalist Julia Lee.

Both Sam Lovett and his brother Bud Lovett played drums as children, coached by historic Louisiana percussionist Harry Walker. Professionally, Sam Lovett's story starts out at the Sky Roof Garden in Alexandria, VA, but is a bit harder to provide with a proper ending. He was active with his own group in both California and Kansas City during the '60s and '70s, still apparently playing at the age of 75 but then dropping off the radar. Even the Kansas City newspapers, usually somewhat on the case with the city's jazz heritage, stuffed as it is with poignant human-interest hard-luck sagas, do not seem to have an obituary for Lovett. He played in the city beginning in the early '20s and was associated with Thamon Hayes' group in 1933, and with Johnson soon thereafter.

He gigged with both Woody Walder and Herman Walder during the late '30s. In the '40s, audiences at Count Basie shows sometimes found out that Jo Jones, like a frontier lawman, loved to send in deputy Lovett in times of personal crisis -- nary a beat was dropped along the way according to reports. The drummer was an important member of the previously mentioned Lee's group from 1943 through 1958, part of which was spent in California.