Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist and actor Alphonse Mouzon passed away on Christmas Day, December 25, 2016.
Alphonse Mouzon was born on November 21st, 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Bonds-Wilson High School where he received his early musical training under the direction of saxophonist and high school music teacher Lonnie Hamilton III. He also took some drum lessons from Charles Garner before playing concerts with the Lonnie Hamilton Band.
Following graduation from high school, Mouzon moved to New York to study music and drama at New York City College and medicine at Manhattan Medical School. Mouzon took drum lessons from jazz pianist Billy Taylor’s drummer Bobby Thomas. While attending college, Alphonse played in the pit band of the Broadway show “Promises, Promises” after being recommended by Bobby Thomas. Mouzon also worked as a medical technologist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after graduating from Manhattan Medical School. However his medical career was short lived.
By 1969, his reputation as a drummer had spread to such an extent that a medical career no longer seemed attractive. Mouzon was the rhythmic foundation for the innovative musical explorations of pianist McCoy Tyner. He was a founding member, along with keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, of the iconic fusion group Weather Report. Together with guitarist Larry Coryell, Mouzon was co-founder of The Eleventh House, the influential fusion band of the 1970s.
Alphonse Mouzon played and/or recorded with Gil Evans, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Les McCann, Ronnie Laws, Klaus Doldinger’s Passport, Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Azar Lawrence, Joey DeFrancesco, MILES SMILES, Albert Mangelsdorff, Joachim Kuhn, Jasper van’t Hof, Michel Legrand, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Donald Bird, Chet Baker, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Ernie Watts, Sonny Rollins, Wallace Roney, Arturo Sandoval, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, George Coleman, John Klemmer, Billy Harper, Dave Grusin, Russ Freeman, George Howard, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Kenny G., Joanne Brackeen, Horace Parlan, Robin Kenyatta, Kevin Toney, Sunnie Paxson, Ross Carnegie Orchestra, Roberta Flack, Sheila E., Celia Cruz, Gloria Lynn, Gloria Coleman, Denise Williams, Freda Payne, Shirley Scott, Anita O’Day, Betty Davis, and in 1991, he performed with Miles Davis on the movie soundtrack album “Dingo”.
Mouzon also worked rock and pop stars, including Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Patrick Moraz, Tommy Bolin and Chubby Checker.
In 1992, Alphone Mouzon founded Tenacious Records. He released a series of successful albums, including “The Survivor”, “On Top Of The World”, “Early Spring”, “By All Means”, “Love Fantasy”, “Back To Jazz”, “As You Wish”, “The Night Is Still Young”, “The Sky Is The Limit”, “Distant Lover”, “Morning Sun”, “Absolute Greatest Love Songs & Ballads” “Live In Hollywood”, “Jazz In Bel-Air”.
In recent years, Mouzon performed in Europe and in the United States with his trio, quartet, or quintet and as a featured guest artist with other groups like Miles Smiles, and Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House. He also taught drums at The Alphonse Mouzon International Private Drum School in Porter Ranch, California.
Alphonse Mouzon was also an actor. He appeared along with actor Tom Hanks in the 1996 film “That Thing You Do”. Mouzon also co-starred in the 2003 film called The Highlife. He can also be seen in a 2004 movie with Michael Keaton, Margaret Collins, and Katie Holmes called “First Daughter”.