Sonny Igoe, 1923-2012

Sonny Igoe, who played drums with a succession of prominent leaders, died this week at the age of 88. In 1939 when Igoe was 16, he won the first Gene Krupa drum competition. After four years in the United States Marine Corps in World War Two, he worked briefly in a band of former Marines, then began a career that included work with Les Elgart, Ina Ray Hutton, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Chuck Wayne and Charlie Ventura. Herman’s featuring Igoe on “New Golden Wedding” in 1951 brought the drummer considerable attention. Two years earlier, his drive energized Benny Goodman’s big band and sextet. You can feel the swing intensify when Igoe switches from brushes to sticks on cymbals behind Wardell Gray’s tenor saxophone solo on “Blue Lou.” The other players are trumpeter Doug Mettome, pianist Buddy Greco, bassist Clyde Lombardi, rhythm guitarist Francis Beecher and Goodman on clarinet.

In recent years, Igoe co-led a big band with saxophonist Dick Meldonian, another musician respected among his peers but not widely known to the public. In this concert performance of “Just in Time,” Meldonian gives his partner the tempo assignment.

Sonny Igoe, RIP

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  1. Mike Kaiser says

    Sonny’s son, Tommy, is also a world-class drummer. After kicking the late Lew Anderson’s big band in New York for several years, Tommy took over the band when Lew passed in 2006. The Birdland Big Band has been turning away business on Friday nights in Birdland.

    Tommy recently moved to the Bay Area. His west coast big band will hold down Monday nights at The Rrazz Room, in San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel, beginning on April 2. The band will be playing every Monday through the summer.

    Further proof that the big band sound is, well, infectious.

  2. says

    Drummer with the New Third Herd back in 1950/51 he kept alive the tradition of his predecessors Tough and Lamond.
    Wardell too – what a player!