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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Philadelphia jazz drummer Billy James passed away suddenly on Friday, November 20, 2009, from what is believed to be complications from asthma, according to Danita Garrison-Lyburn, his long-time girlfriend. He was 73 years old.
Funeral arrangements will be private,Cards and condolences can be sent to Danita Garrison Lyburn, 5926 Larchwood Ave. 1st floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19143.

Many jazz fans know the distinctive style of James and his legendary work with organist Don Patterson and saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Booker Ervin.

Check him out on; ( to name a few!! )
Sonny Stitt/Don Patterson, Legends Of Acid Jazz, Vol. 2 (Prestige, 1968)
Don Patterson, Boppin' & Burnin' (Prestige, 1968)

Rest In Peace, Billy James... those Tuesday nights at Ortlieb's...was like being in a dream with Billy James and Sid Simmons or Sam Dockerty and bassists Bill Zeno // Arthur Harper.

Whenever I played, Billy James he pushed me and egged me on, he taught me never to back off, just keep blowing, be confident and swing hard. He went out of his way to play gigs with me. Had friends drive him to Jersey, NYC < once we hit with Billy ....AND BIG NICK in Queens, at a dumpy corner bar!! > or come to joints in PA that would hire us. Or SCIG @ at Graterford- the 5th largest max security prison in the US. We'd do Xmas partys for the prisioners with Johnny Coles on Flugel, Dylan Taylor on bass, Randy Sutin on vibes and sometimes Arthur Harper on bass.

This guy, had the feel on the drums. I once did an article in JazzPlayer on him-and he spoke of how tough Sonny Stitt was to impress. Stitt told James to sit on his right hand and keep tempo like that. After a week Billy told me how much MORE he heard and understood what Stitt was asking him to do.
I was lucky to play and know Don Patterson AND Billy James.

BILLY JAMES WAS THE ORGAN GROUP DRUMMER.
Hands down. The man.
He played with my hero's Booker Ervin, Stitt and Jug and Don Patterson.
It was one of the things in my life...I'M THANKFUL FOR. To play and learn not just for a day, but months and weeks, set to set, with Billy James.
( D.P TOO!! )

When they played with Stitt- Stitt would raise the sax...and when the horn came down- GAME ON- they were playing in tempo!!! Old school to the max!

I'm gonna miss this guy.
There will never be another drummer like Billy James. RIP my friend.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Yeah Tim, this is a tough one to deal with. You and I were just talking about Billy just yesterday. And I came home from hanging with you and read an email with his obit. Man this is tough.......RIP Billy James
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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6,260 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah Tim, this is a tough one to deal with. You and I were just talking about Billy just yesterday. And I came home from hanging with you and read an email with his obit. Man this is tough.......RIP Billy James
I thought the same thing. DAMN##!

Very upsetting. Very. :(

Somewhere, there are a bunch of master takes that Joe Fields from MUSE records had that he did with Don and Billy & me.A few guests were Emily Remler and Hank Crawford brought a tune by just for me-and we recorded it then. That stuff shoulda been put out over 26 years ago!!! Billy was on fire!!
Same band used to play Ft Dix...base on Sundays at that club. A lot with Cecil Payne too, and Sutin on vibes. Remember that joint?
That recording...It's been bothering me for years. That record/or records put out at the right time, could of been helpful to all of us. I wrote a chart for Billy called " Drums from the jazz chair"...kinda like " The Soulful Drums" McDuff did w/ Joe Dukes. Oh well......:|

Billy was more than a drummer. More than anyone could dream of, he knew THE MUSIC and was a beautiful guy.He could make you laugh. One time Billy and Philly Joe were doing Dracula impressions at the " Kings Rook Club".On the parking lot, Philly was teaching Billy the right lingo- it was hysterical.But Philly Joe had the moves of Dracula, I was convinced he was the best. Those guy are worth a fortune for me, I learned a lot.

I'm really missing Billy James- this hurts. What a guy. [email protected]!

BTW- Side C...Big fun Sunday. LOL. Good times

PS- Side C-Philly Joe used to do that Dracula line where he'd say.." Ok children drink your blood and go to bed"...ahahaha. Billy James would fall out when Philly Joe did that.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
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1,228 Posts
Yeah Tim, this is a tough one to deal with. You and I were just talking about Billy just yesterday. And I came home from hanging with you and read an email with his obit. Man this is tough.......RIP Billy James
I thought the same thing. DAMN##!

Very upsetting. Very. :(

Somewhere, there are a bunch of master takes that Joe Fields from MUSE records had that he did with Don and Billy & me.A few guests were Emily Remler and Hank Crawford brought a tune by just for me-and we recorded it then. That stuff shoulda been put out over 26 years ago!!! Billy was on fire!!
Same band used to play Ft Dix...base on Sundays at that club. A lot with Cecil Payne too, and Sutin on vibes. Remember that joint?
That recording...It's been bothering me for years. That record/or records put out at the right time, could of been helpful to all of us. I wrote a chart for Billy called " Drums from the jazz chair"...kinda like " The Soulful Drums" McDuff did w/ Joe Dukes. Oh well......:|

Billy was more than a drummer. More than anyone could dream of, he knew THE MUSIC and was a beautiful guy.He could make you laugh. One time Billy and Philly Joe were doing Dracula impressions at the " Kings Rook Club".On the parking lot, Philly was teaching Billy the right lingo- it was hysterical.But Philly Joe had the moves of Dracula, I was convinced he was the best. Those guy are worth a fortune for me, I learned a lot.

I'm really missing Billy James- this hurts. What a guy. [email protected]!

BTW- Side C...Big fun Sunday. LOL. Good times

PS- Side C-Philly Joe used to do that Dracula line where he'd say.." Ok children drink your blood and go to bed"...ahahaha. Billy James would fall out when Philly Joe did that.
Good to see you too last Sunday, Tim. A fun time, and we can use all that we can get.

Yes, I remember Ft Dix. It was the NCO club wasn't it? A nice swinging little joint, the soldiers were hip. I used to play there with Charles Fambrough, Uhri Cane, and George Johnson jr, my first gigs as a leader and I was scared to death. But those army cats made me feel right at home, bless 'em.

Man The Kings Rook! I remember the first time I worked there was with a quintette led by Edgar Bateman. I get there and Bateman rushes up to me babbling about how he forgot his bass drum pedal and he needs me to take him back to S Philly to get it. So like a fool, I take him back down to Catherine st to get the damn thing. The Rook was all the way up at the top of Broad st on Old York Road. We hop in my new Rambler (that tells you how long ago this was) and jet like 50 blocks down Broad, get the pedal, and jet 50 blocks north to the club and start just a few minutes late. Then at the end of the night, the manager, Harold, hands Bateman the money who turns around and hands it out without counting it. So he pays all 4 sidemen and only has like 5 dollars left for himself. He turns on Harold and cries rip off. But Harold didn't see the payout, he had other things to do. He tells Bateman that he should've counted it in front of him before he gave it out. Bateman was pissed, but I wasn't going to give him any of my money. I had driven his butt down to S Philly to get that pedal, so that was my contribution for the night. After that he learned to count the damn money.

Yes, Billy is a great loss to all of us who survive him. He was a foot soldier in the army of music and really provided great energy and momentum to move things foward. Tim, he's going to survive as long as guys like you and me are still out here playing the music. He left us with the message.......
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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