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Drummer with Benson, Montgomery, Scottby Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins
If you stopped into Smalls in New York's West Village anytime in the past several years, chances were good that Jimmy Lovelace was present behind the drum kit. Lovelace, a bebop veteran who had worked with George Benson, Wes Montgomery and other premier jazzmen, called Smalls his second home until the club closed last year. Lovelace died of pancreatic cancer at Manhattan's Beth Israel Hospital on October 29, 2004. He was 64 years old.
James Ross Lovelace was born on February 6, 1940, in Kansas City, Missouri. He became a pro musician in the early 1960s, gigging with Benson, Montgomery, Tony Scott, Junior Mance and other jazzmen. 1965 was a banner year for the drummer, who appeared on Benson's "Benson Burner" and "It's Uptown", Mance's "Good Life", and Montgomery's "Twisted Blues" all in that year. Lovelace was a regular member of Benson's quartet for over a decade. He sometimes stepped away from the bop template, as on Tony Scott's 1969 New Age archetype "Homage to Lord Krishna" and Amina Claudine Myers' tribute to Bessie Smith. In 2000 the drummer supported Claude "Fiddler" Williams on "Swingin' the Blues", the violinist's final album.
Lovelace only appeared on a couple of dozen albums during his long career, generally preferring to stick to small club dates, the environment in which he thrived. At Smalls he was regularly featured in duets with pianist Frank Hewitt, with whom he recorded "We Loved You" in 2001, and the group Across 7 Street.
Jimmy Lovelace is survived by his wife, Okaru Hoshino, and his sister, Myra Hobson of Kansas City.^ Top
Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.