b: Oct. 17, 1909, East Orange, NJ; d: Jan. 31, 1981, Columbus, OH
Cozy is considered to be one of the most perfect drummers jazz has produced, possessing an incomparably solid tempo with dreamy clearness and unstoppable power!
Most of his long career was as a sideman for such leaders as; Willie Bryant, (the suave, Un-Official Mayor of Harlem), Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton and Louis Armstrong. Even before these, Cozy had played with Benny Carter's first (and un-successful) band. That band also had such un-known names as Teddy Wilson (piano); Chu Berry (tenor sax) and a young trombonist named Dickie Wells.
Almost with complete silence, Cozy broke many of the racial barriers in music. He was the first black musician on a network musical staff. CBS radio hired him to work with Raymond Scott in 1943. In 1985, Scott recalled, "Cozy was the most professional musician I've ever worked with."
Cozy played a wildly rhythmic drum solo in the stage show "Carmen Jones" in 1943 saying, "I think I'm the only drummer to have been featured in a big Broadway show with his name on the program."
In 1944, Benny Goodman and Cozy lead a small group at the Onyx Club in New York. His band began to tour and occasionally recorded. In the short times between the touring, Cozy also went off as a soloist to tour Europe along side Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines. In 1953, Gene Krupa and Cozy formed The Krupa And Cole Drum School in New York. "The more you study," Cozy said, "the more you find out you don't know; but the more you study, the closer you come." The school was a great success and remained in operation until Krupa's death in 1973.
The Cozy Cole Combo played the Metropole in New York and recorded a million selling version of "Topsy" in 1958. His group also recorded other notable tunes such as, "Jersey Jump-Off," "Willow Weep For Me," and "Night Wind."
During the 1960's he joined up with his long time friend Jonah Jones. Jones and Cozy played with Stuff Smith and Cab Calloway in the early days and reunited to tour and record. The team remained active throughout the 1970's. In 1978 Cozy was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Musical Arts at Capital University in Columbus. After his retirement, Cozy gained his degree at the same college in lecturer studies. Cozy Cole died at the age of 71 in Columbus January 31, 1981.
"Cozy was like my brother. He was the most wonderful person I ever met. I
first met him in 1936. I was new to New York and Cozy, being from New Jersey,
showed me all around. In those days Harlem was full of great musicians and I was
having a difficult time, because no one knew me. But old Cozy, he saw to it that
I was offered jobs. One time Teddy Wilson offered Cozy a gig to record with some
new singer. Cozy told Teddy that he would only take the job if Teddy hired me.
That was how nice Cozy was. When Cozy and I got down there with Teddy, we met
Johnny Hodges and that young singer's name was Billie Holiday. Cozy was one of a
kind. There'll never be another Cozy, that is for sure." ---Jonah Jones, 1996.
Notes by Mr. Dan Del Fiorentino
Born 17 Oct 1909, East Orange, New Jersey
Died 31 January 1981, Columbus, Ohio
Cozy Cole had a long and successful career as a sideman,
working with many of the greats in jazz: Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Cab
Calloway, and Lionel Hampton. In 1943, he joined Raymond Scott's CBS radio
orchestra. Scott later called him, "The most professional musician I've ever
In 1953, he formed a profession school for drummers with Gene Krupa in New York City. During the 1950s, he also led The Cozy Cole Combo, appearing regularly at the Metropole in New York. The combo recorded an instrumental featuring Cole on drums called, "Topsy" that sold over a million copies--one of the most popular instrumentals of the rock era.
He continued to tour with Jonah Jones, Cab Calloway, and others until he retired in the mid-1970s
Jonah Jones Chu Berry Milton Hinton
Dizzy Gillespie Ben Webster