Advice To The Young
“Pay attention to your parents!”
That’s the message that Jazz-legend Alvin Queen passes on to young people. “There is nothing that you are going to experience that your parents don’t know about! Sometimes we are going to knock our heads to get to where we have got to go. And I wish, I didn’t hit that head as many times as I did.” Read more …
Alvin Leroy Queen was born in New York on August 16, 1950. He started playing drums when he was eight years old. “In a black family, there is always music. There was always music around. One Christmas I went down Fourth Avenue and I saw a little kid up at the window playing a drum-set. And I said to my mum: One day I’m gonna find my way to get up there.”
Alvin’s family was poor and received welfare support at the time. It was only able to pay for some lessons, but as he showed talent, his drum-teacher decided to keep him anyhow – Alvin contributing with running errands, shining shoes, making coffee. Still, in his early ‘teens, he would lie about his age to get into the Jazz clubs, and received on-stage tuition by Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Art Taylor, or Elvin Jones. Alvin met John Coltrane when he was twelve, and Horace Silver when he was fourteen and was already enough of a player to be allowed to sit in with them.
In 1968 he started working with Horace Silver, and the next year he became a regular member of the George Benson Quartet, appearing on the Johnny Carson Show. In 1969 Alvin worked with Stanley Turrentine and was featured on several TV shows. In November 1970, trumpet star Charles Tolliver hired Alvin for his first European tour. Alvin stayed with Tolliver on and off for about eight years: during this period he also worked with Milt Jackson, Leon Thomas, Pharoah Sanders, and Wild Bill Davis. By 1979, Alvin decided to settle in Europe and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he has been residing since.
During the 1980s, and until his untimely death, Alvin was a member of the Kenny Drew Trio, which also featured the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. This trio became immensely popular both in Japan and Europe, recording several CDs and VT’s for the Japanese label Alpha Records. In the last decades, Alvin has remained one of the most in-demand freelance drummers in the world of Jazz. He can be found working in Tokyo, New York, and Barcelona within the same week.
Alvin Queen was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2020.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020
Supported by Nordea Fonden
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