Heard, J(ames) C(harles)

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Heard, J(ames) C(harles)

Heard, J(ames) C(harles), jazz drummer, singer; b. Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 8, 1917; d. Southfield, Mich., Sept. 27, 1988. His family moved to Detroit when Heard was two years old. He worked as a dancer as a child, and then learned drums when he was a teenager. From his teen years, he worked with local bands and also played in Detroit with Sam Price’s Trio. He moved to N.Y. in the late 1930s to join Teddy Wilson’s Big Band in April 1939; the band was soon reduced to a sextet. Heard worked with Wilson through the summer of 1942, except for a brief period during 1940 when he was sidelined by illness. From autumn 1942 until September 1945, he was mainly with Cab Calloway, but also did dates with other leaders. From early 1946 until 1953, he led his own band at Cafe Society and other N.Y. clubs, while continuing to actively freelance. He also worked regularly with Norman Grant’s “Jazz at the Philharmonic” shows, including several European and U.S. tours through the 1950s. From 1953-57, Heard lived in Japan, led his own group there, and toured the Pacific area including Australia. On his return to the U.S., he continued to lead his own groups in N.Y, while freelancing and gigging with many others, including Coleman Hawkins (1959), the Teddy Wilson Trio (1961), pianist Dorothy Donegan (1963), and Red Norvo (in Las Vegas, 1964). Heard returned to Detroit in 1966, and led a trio at the Playboy Club and other local venues. During the 1970s, he made several European tours with his own groups. He was less active in the final decade of his life.


This Is Me, J.C. (1958); Cafe Society (1974); Some of This, Some of That (1986).

—John Chilton Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter