Having impaired vision since birth, he devoted himself to indoor activities. At the age of twelve, he made a second solo appearance with the orchestra. So, at the age of fifteen, Joe changed the course of his musical endeavors and began to study drums. He was an excellent teacher and gave Joe much encouragement. Joe began sitting in with any group that would allow it. Joe would play any job he was called for.
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Morello was a master percussionist with exacting standards, and in his years on the road with them, he was the cornerstone of the hitmaking quartet one of the few jazz groups to reach the pop top 10, as they did with Take Five in the UK in The group depended more than any of its contemporaries on time-signatures rarely used in jazz.
But Morello generated intensity and heat without raising his volume, or exaggerating his movements beyond wrist actions as steadily undemonstrative as if he were chopping vegetables. Morello was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. As he had a visual impairment, his childhood activities were principally indoor ones — with violin studies a priority, encouraged by his parents from the age of six.
Morello switched to percussion studies, though his ambition was still classical orchestral playing. He learned at first with the drummer Joe Sefcik, began jamming with jazz-playing high-school friends including the saxophonist Phil Woods and the guitarist Sal Salvador, and took paid work in marching bands. Sefcik put his promising student on to the Boston drum teacher George Lawrence Stone, who taught Morello to read music, to devote many hours to playing drum rudiments and to forget the prospect of a career with classical orchestras.
After much consideration the drummer moved there in The Desmond-inspired invitation from Brubeck who had already sold more than , copies of his album Jazz Goes to College and become the first jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Time magazine initially came for a short tour.
The following year, having turned down offers from the swing stars Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, Morello was to become a permanent quartet member alongside Brubeck, Desmond and the bassist Eugene Wright.
The undemonstrative calmness with which he executed complex polyrhythms seemed to suggest he had a separate brain operating each of his limbs. It made No 2 in the US album chart. The group then globetrotted for a decade, playing for world leaders, converting jazz fans after a suspicious start with the rootsier cognoscenti who at first thought they were too European and winning citations everywhere. He was a columnist for the magazine Modern Drummer and published teaching resources such as Rudimental Jazz: A Musical Application of the Rudiments to the Drumset — a title that captures the rigorously formal focus he combined with the most unfettered instincts of a jazz improviser.
Joe Morello obituary