On The Beat with Joe Corsello

By Modern Drummer

Joe talks about his years with Modern Drummer, Benny Goodman, Sonny Rollins and more.

Hello MD! To begin, in 1976 I received a phone call from a guy who said he was going to come out with a quarterly drum magazine. His name was Ron Spagnardi. The name of the magazine was going to be Modern Drummer. The reason for the call was to ask me if I would be interested in being on the magazine’s Advisory Board. Ron went on to say the first issue was coming out that coming January 1977, and it would feature Buddy Rich. I immediately told Ron that I would be honored to serve!

Up to this point in my career, I had done three world tours with Benny Goodman, a year with singer Peggy Lee, two world tours with the World’s Greatest Jazz Band, and I was house drummer at Michael’s Pub in New York City. The House trio was Milt Hinton, pianist Hank Jones and myself. We backed jazz greats Red Norvo, Joe Venuti, Zoot Simms and Marian McPartland who I recorded and traveled with for four years.

In 1973, I was asked to join the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra. I decided to remain with Marian McPartland who was paying a lot more. I learned at this point in life that when one door closes, another door opens! I got to meet saxophonist Bruce Johnstone and my Berklee College of Music friend Rick Petrone. The three of us met on the road and decided to form a rock/fusion band called New York Mary. After weeks of rehearsal and auditioning many musicians, the nucleus was formed: Bruce Johnstone on sax, Lew Soloff on trumpet, John Scofield on guitar, Allan Zavod on keyboards, Rick Petrone on bass, and myself on drums. The band was heard by Columbia’s John Hammond and quickly signed by Arista Records and produced by Michael Cuscuna. After playing and traveling together opening for the B-52’s, Patty Smith, John Klemmer, Tony Williams Lifetime band, and Stevie Wonder, the band broke up in 1978. I returned to college to complete my music degree.

In June of 1980, I entered the world of law enforcement and worked as a homicide detective in the Major Crime Division of the Stamford Police Dept., retiring in 2002 with a full pension and health and medical benefits.

In November 2005, I was asked to join Sonny Rollins and his band. Drummer Steve Jordan was leaving Sonny Rollins’ band to join Eric Clapton’s group. Steve Jordan and I can be heard on the last studio recording, Sonny, Please, and the best part, The Beat Goes On!

Thank you to my companies DW drums, Zildjian cymbals, sticks, and brushes. My latest drum book, Drummer’s Playbook, is available through Amazon or my website at JoeCorsello.com.

Photo copyright 2016 Kvon Photography


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