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Legendary Toronto jazz drummer Archie Alleyne, who performed with some of the biggest names in jazz, has died after a long battle with cancer; he was 82 years old.
Born in 1933, Alleyne grew up in the Kensington Market neighbourhood, and taught himself to play the drums at a young age. In his 20s, he became the house drummer at the Town Tavern at Queen and Yonge, and the rest, as they say, is history.
By the 1950s, Alleyne earned his title as Toronto’s premier jazz percussionist, playing alongside greats such as Billie Holiday, Stan Getz and Lester Young. He is being remembered not only as a great jazz drummer, but as an ambassador for the genre in Canada; he has toured the world, released several well-regarded albums, and even opened up Canada’s first soul food restaurant, The Underground Railroad, in Toronto.
In 1967, at the peak of his success, Alleyne was involved in a serious car crash on Lake Shore Boulevard driving home from a concert, and he wouldn’t play again until 1982. When he returned, he found that the progress of jazz in Canada had slowed down since he last played, and in 1983 he successfully pushed the Canada Council for the Arts to recognize jazz music when it came to subsidies for recordings.
In 1989, he toured the Caribbean and Africa with pianist Oliver Jones, including a concert in Nigeria that was made into a National Film Board movie, Oliver Jones in Africa. Alleyne’s most recent achievements include becoming an officer for the Order of Canada in 2012, and this year he received a Harry Jerome Award for his works. He also created the Archie Alleyne Fund, a scholarship for aspiring musicians.
Source: CBC.com/Image: thehabarinetwork.com
Contributor: Charlene McCallum (follow on twitter: @CharleneCMCC)