Artist Catalog

Ronnie Burrage

Born: October 19 1959
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AllMusic

Ronnie Burrage

Ronnie Burrage (born October 19, 1959, St. Louis, Missouri) is an American jazz drummer. His style draws elements from hard bop, bebop, funk, and soul.

Burrage sang in the St. Louis Cathedral boys' choir from age seven to eleven and performed with Duke Ellington at the age of nine. He also played drums, percussion and vibraphone and sang in several funk, R & B and jazz groups including The Soul Flamingos, Fontella Bass, Oliver Sain, Third Circuit & Spirit, Rainbow Glass, and Expression Jazz Quintet. His introduction to jazz was formed from listening to the music almost every waking hour from uncles and grandparents. His uncles, Allen, Michael, Noel, Dale aka Ahmad and trumpeter Jan Mahr aka, Rasul Siddik were most inspirational to his pursuance in learning this music, as each had a love of jazz in all its forms and facets. Burrage played in the St. Louis Metropolitan Jazz Quintet from 1975 to 1977 and was considered a child prodigy to be playing with standing members of this particular quintet such as John Mixon, who played bass with Grant Green and Miles Davis, James "Iron Head" Matthews piano, Freddie Washington, Willie Akins saxophone and Ben Jones trumpet. He was also a favorite of vocalist Mae Wheeler's jazz group, featuring guitarist Marvin Horne.

From age 15 to 17, Burrage was also involved in a collective band called No Commercial Potential with Mark Friedrick on keyboards, Darryl Mixon on bass (son of John Mixon), and Richie Daniels on guitar that opened many fusion concerts for George Duke, Gino Vannelli and others. He played in many jazz clubs, concerts and venues including St. Louis' annual "Afro Day in the Park". Also while still a teenager, Burrage and his own band, Alexis, managed by his mother, Cosandra Burrage, worked with correctional institutions throughout St. Louis and Illinois in an outreach program to bring about positive change.

At 17, Burrage moved to New York City and played with Sonny Fortune, Lester Bowie, Defunkt, Teruo Nakamura, Sir Roland Hanna, Major Holley, Arthur Blythe, Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, and McCoy Tyner. During his three-year tenure with McCoy Tyner, Burrage did frequent master classes at The Berklee College of Music in Boston where many great jazz musicians were students. Such notables as Branford Marsalis, Frank "Kuumba"Lacy, Donald Harrison, Terence Conely, Victor Bailey, Gene Jackson, Kevin Eubanks, and many other successful musicians. He played with Woody Shaw and then cofounded Third Kind of Blue with John Purcell and Anthony Cox. Later work includes recordings with Defunkt, Barbara Dennerlein, Michal Urbaniak, Ray Anderson, Abdullah Ibrahim, Joanne Brackeen, Jack Walrath, Sonny Fortune, Courtney Pine, Joe Zawinul, Archie Shepp, the World Saxophone Quartet and Gary Thomas. Burrage toured with Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest jazz composers of the late 20th century.

"The Burrage Ensemble" was Ronnie's first band playing primarily in New York City from 1980-1983 as well as jazz festivals in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston and Washington, DC. Members were Kenny Kirkland on piano and keyboards, Marcus Miller on bass, Joe Ford on saxes and flute. Other members of the ensemble included Rasul Siddik on trumpet, Branford Marsalis on sax, Avery Sharpe on basses, Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, and Wallace Roney on trumpet.

In 1978, on a full music scholarship, Burrage attended North Texas State University. At Jazz Mobile N.Y.C. from 1994-2002, he was instructor drum and percussion while being instructor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1996. He was substitute instructor at The New School in New York, New York from 1992 to 2000. Currently, Burrage is producer and artistic director at Bluenoise Studio, Frederick, Maryland, as well as professor of practice at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, teaching hip-hop music and culture and A Closer World in the Art, African and African-American studies and Integrative Arts Departments.
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