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Connie Kay

Conrad Henry Kirnon (April 27, 1927 – November 30, 1994) known professionally as Connie Kay, was an American jazz and R&B drummer, who was a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Self-taught on drums, he began performing in Los Angeles in the mid-1940s. His drumming is recorded in The Hunt, the recording of a famous Los Angeles jam session featuring the dueling tenors of Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray on July 6, 1947. He recorded with Lester Young's quintet from 1949 to 1955 and with Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis.

Kay did R&B sessions for Atlantic Records in the early to mid-1950s, and he was featured on hit records such as Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner and Ruth Brown's (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean.

Kay joined the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1955, replacing original drummer Kenny Clarke. He remained through the group's dissolution in 1974 and occasional reunions into the 1990s. In addition to his MJQ compatriots, he had an enduring partnership with cool jazz altoist Paul Desmond through the first half of the 1960s. He played drums on several of Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison's albums: Astral Weeks, one song on Saint Dominic's Preview, and four songs on Tupelo Honey.

Kay was known for incorporating percussion instruments alongside his drum kit, such as timpani, small cymbals, triangle, bell tree, and darbukas, the latter referred to as "exotic-looking" drums in a 2006 article.

In 1989, Kay received an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music.

Kay had a stroke in 1992, but recovered enough to resume performing. He died of cardiac arrest in Manhattan in 1994 at the age of 67. He also played with Benny Goodman' Orchestra at the Carnegie Hall 40th. Anniversary Concert on January 17, 1978. Kay never recorded as a session leader.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 27, 1927 (Tuckahoe), Died November 30, 1994 (Manhattan)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1957 - 1958

Roles Represented in DAHR: drums

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 101264 1/7/1957 Robbin's nest Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101265 1/7/1957 Cocktails for two Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101266 1/7/1957 I never knew Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101267 1/7/1957 Feather's nest Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101268 1/8/1957 They can't take that away from me Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101269 1/8/1957 Between the devil and the deep blue sea Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101270 1/8/1957 Mean to me Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101271 1/8/1957 The happy cats Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101272 1/8/1957 Later for the happenings Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101273 1/8/1957 Buttercup Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101274 1/8/1957 Joe's blues Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 101275 1/8/1957 Joe's tune Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 103252 1/8/1957 Joe's blues Joe Newman Sextet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104634 3/25/1958 Sing song Hal McKusick Quintet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104635 3/25/1958 It never entered my mind Hal McKusick Quintet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104636 3/25/1958 Yesterdays Hal McKusick Quintet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104637 3/25/1958 A touch of Spring Hal McKusick Quintet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104638 3/28/1958 La rue Hal McKusick Septet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104639 3/28/1958 Now's the time Hal McKusick Septet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104640 3/28/1958 Whisper not Hal McKusick Septet instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 104641 3/28/1958 The last day of Fall Hal McKusick Septet instrumentalist, drums  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Kay, Connie," accessed March 4, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/324826.

Kay, Connie. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/324826.

"Kay, Connie." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 4 March 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/324826

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