Steve McCall

About Steve McCall

One of the finest drummers in free jazz, Steve McCall was a subtle improviser who could keep a pulse going without actually stating the beat. He played early on with Lucky Carmichael, a blues singer. McCall met Muhal Richard Abrams in 1961 and became a founding member of the AACM in 1965. Based in Chicago, McCall played with hard bop groups, but made more of an impact performing with top avant-garde players, including Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, and Leo Smith. McCall was in Paris during 1967-1970, playing and recording with Braxton, Marion Brown, and Gunter Hampel. He returned to Chicago in 1970, was on a session with Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons, and was in the trio Reflection with Henry Threadgill and Fred Hopkins. After another year in Europe, McCall went to New York in 1975, where he reunited with Threadgill and Hopkins and they formed the successful avant-garde group Air. McCall was with Air until the early '80s, also recording with Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, and David Murray. McCall played with Cecil Taylor's Unit in 1985 and performed regularly with Roscoe Mitchell's Quartet up until his death from a stroke. Although he was on a lot of important sessions (including dates with Joseph Jarman, Fred Anderson, and Murray's octet), Steve McCall never led an album of his own. In the late '90s, Chicago label Okka Disk released a 1980 duo recording of McCall and Anderson entitled Vintage Duets. ~ Scott Yanow

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