Frank Butler (musician)

Frank Butler (February 18, 1928 – July 24, 1984) was an American jazz drummer.

Frank Butler
Born(1928-02-18)February 18, 1928
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
DiedJuly 24, 1984(1984-07-24) (aged 56)
Ventura, California, U.S.
Associated actsDuke Ellington, John Coltrane, Elmo Hope, Miles Davis, Art Pepper, Curtis Counce, Harold Land

Early lifeEdit

Butler was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but later moved west and was associated in large part with the West Coast school. He played the drums in multiple high school bands (including one in Omaha, Nebraska), in local jazz combos, and in USO shows during World War II.[1]


Butler never became well known, but was highly regarded by fellow musicians (in 1958, veteran drummer Jo Jones proclaimed him "the greatest drummer in the world")[2] and performed with numerous jazz notables. Early in his career he played with the Dave Brubeck combo at a 1950 engagement in San Francisco, before Brubeck's group gained a national following in the mid-1950s.[3] He went on to perform and record with Duke Ellington,[1] John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ben Webster, Harold Land, Hampton Hawes and Art Pepper in the 1950s and 1960s. He performed on several television series, including Stars of Jazz with bassist Curtis Counce. The Contemporary label noticed Butler and Counce, and, from 1956 through 1958, captured them together on several Curtis Counce Quintet albums. Sidelined for many years by an addiction to heroin, Butler did not record albums under his own name until the 1970s, when he released two highly regarded albums titled Wheelin' and Dealin' and The Stepper.[3]


Butler died in Ventura, California after a short battle with lung cancer at the age of 56.


As leaderEdit

As co-leaderEdit

Co-led with Curtis Amy

As sidemanEdit

With Dolo Coker

With Joyce Collins

With John Coltrane

With Curtis Counce

With Miles Davis

With Kenny Drew

With Teddy Edwards

With Victor Feldman

With Red Garland

With Hampton Hawes

With Elmo Hope

With Helen Humes

  • Helen Humes (Contemporary, 1960)
  • Swingin' with Humes (Contemporary, 1961)

With Fred Katz

With Harold Land

With Big Miller

  • Revelations and the Blues (Columbia, 1961)

With Red Mitchell

  • Rejoice! (Pacific Jazz, 1961)

With Paul Moer

  • The Contemporary Jazz Classics of the Paul Moer Trio (Del-Fi, 1959)

With Phineas Newborn

With Art Pepper

With Ben Webster

With Gerald Wilson

With Jimmy Witherspoon

With Xanadu All Stars


  1. ^ a b Feather, p. 150.
  2. ^ Goia, p. 323.
  3. ^ a b Chadbourne.


  • Feather, Leonard (1960). The Encyclopedia of Jazz. Horizon Press.
  • Gioia, Ted (1992). West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960. Oxford University Press.

External linksEdit