Parker, Leon (Evans Jr.)

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Parker, Leon (Evans Jr.)

Parker, Leon (Evans Jr.), eclectic jazz drummer; b. White Plains, N.Y., Aug. 21, 1965. A tasteful, swinging performer and a purist of sorts who uses a very small drum set, he slowly developed a reputation around N.Y. in the late 1980s and 1990s. He began drumming on household objects at three, performing solo improvisations at age six. As a teenager, Parker performed with a youth jazz ensemble and then went on to work in local dance bands; for his senior high school recital he composed a concerto using orchestral percussion instruments. Inspired by native drummers of Spain, he began reducing his drum set to fewer and fewer parts; by the late 1980s, he was only using the ride cymbal; he worked with Tom Harrell and even went out with Kenny Barron and Dewey Redman with the lone cymbal. He was house drummer at N.Y’s Augies jazz club from 1987–88, and then led groups in N.Y., mostly at the Village Gate’s sidewalk level from 1989–94. During this time, he brought back the bass drum and snare and added hand drumming, including congas, bell, rattle, clave, marimba, ashiko and caxixi, gong and bowl. His second album, Belief, was awarded “1996 Album of the Year” by the N.Y. Jazz Critics’ Circle. That same year, he worked with the performance group Urban Bush Women, with whom he toured Brazil and Australia. He has also begun teaching vocal/body movement and rhythm workshops to dance students in conservatories and universities, including at the Univ. of Mich. He sometimes solos entirely by slapping and tapping his body, and by shaking various percussion objects. He often works with his wife, Lisa, who is a flutist.


Above and Below (1994); Belief (1996); Awakening (1998).

—Lewis Porter

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Parker, Leon (Evans Jr.)

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