Bobby Rosengarden (left) and Alex Sanguinetti in London, 1980 performing at "Pizza Express".


Swing-bobby.JPGBIOGRAPHY: About Bobby RosengardenSwing-bobby.JPG

Born: April 23, 1924 (Elgin, IL) - Robert Marshall Rosengarden
Known in professional career as Bobby Rosengarden, Bob Rosengarden, Robert M. Rosengarden

Died:  Februrary 27, 2007 (Sarasota, FL)

All Music Guide had this to say about Bobby Rosengarden:

A versatile drummer equally skilled in the studios with a big band or pushing a mainstream combo, Bobby Rosengarden has appeared on countless sessions through the years. He began playing drums when he was 12, studied at the University of Michigan and played in Army bands while in the military (1944-45). After his discharge, Rosengarden worked with Henry Busse (1945-46) and tenorman Alvy West (1946-48) before becoming a busy studio musician. He played at NBC television from 1949-68, switching to ABC in 1969-74, where he led the band for the Dick Cavett Show. Through the years, Rosengarden had opportunities to record (often on percussion) with Duke Ellington (1959), Miles Davis/Gil Evans (1961) and Benny Goodman (starting in the mid-1960s and gigging with Goodman off and on for 20 years). Rosengarden gained some recognition for his work on the Dick Cavett Show and after that he was a member of the World's Greatest Jazz Band (1974-78), Soprano Summit (1975-78), The New York Jazz Repertory Company and Gerry Mulligan's combo. In later years, Rosengarden (who has not led his own recording date) had been most often heard as the drummer with a variety of all-star, swing-oriented mainstream groups. No matter where he played, he contributed solid swing and taste to the music. -- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

From The Internet Movie Database site:

He could play bongos, conga, water gong, finger cymbals, musical saw, spoons, and washboard. But his most familiar role was big-band drummer, making musical wisecracks as the band-leader on "The Dick Cavett Show".

He started percussion lessons when he was 4, and later won a music scholarship to the University of Michigan. He played drums in the Army Band during WWII. After the war, he played in nightclubs, developing excellent sight-reading skills. He played with groups led by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Skitch Henderson, Quincy Jones, and Gerry Mulligan. He backed up Billie Holliday, Carmen McRae, Barbra Streisand, and Tony Bennett.

From The Time Magazine site:

DIED. Bobby Rosengarden, 82, session drummer for artists from Duke Ellington to Harry Belafonte who became better known in the late 1960s as the musical smart aleck and bandleader on The Dick Cavett Show; in Sarasota, Fla. Rosengarden perfected the art of the witty, and sometimes risqué, "walk-on" song to accompany guests. Of Rosengarden's choice of tunes--Hello Dolly for Salvador Dalí, There'll Be Some Changes Made for transsexual Jan Morris--Cavett later said, "Luckily, the censor was dumber about music than I was."

From The Percussive Arts Society site:

Jazz drummer Bobby Rosengarden died of kidney failure on February 27, 2007, at age 82.

Rosengarden was best known to many for his work on TV shows, including The Steve Allen Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show, Sing Along with Mitch, the early years of Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, and The Dick Cavett Show, for which he was also the bandleader.

Rosengarden was also an in-demand New York freelance musician and studio player whose credits included recordings and/or appearances with Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Skitch Henderson, Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, Billie Holliday, Carmen McRae, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Ben E. King, Jay and the Americans and Arlo Guthrie. In 1965, he played a Stravinsky piece with the Columbia Jazz Band, with Stravinsky conducting.

An Excerpt from The New York Times obit on Bobby, written by Corey Kilgannon:

[. . . ] A veteran of television network orchestras, talk-show bands and recording sessions, Mr. Rosengarden played bongos for Harry Belafonte, banged a metal triangle on the Ben E. King hit record “Stand By Me” and cupped his hands to blow the eerie hooting hyena sound on the theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” during a recording session for a radio-ready version of the song. He played conga on “She Cried” by Jay and the Americans, the water gong for the pianist Dick Hyman and finger cymbals on an Arlo Guthrie recording. He was also adept at the saw, spoons and the washboard.
[. . . ]

What Martin Cohen had to say about Bobby's passing:

On February 27, 2007 percussionist/drummer and bandleader Bobby Rosengarden died at the age of 82. Bobby was one of the most influential people in growing my percussion business, Latin Percussion. I sought him out in 1963 at the suggestion of Specs Powell since Rosendarden was doing so much of the percussion recording in studios around New York. It was a time when percussion was so popular in demonstrating the left and right channels of the newly introduced audio phenomenon, stereo. I told Bobby that I wanted to earn my living building percussion istruements and asked what I could do to make some money. He said build a jawbone of an ass that didn't break. A few weeks later I returned with my first invention, Vibra-Slap. He was so impressed with the device that he took me back stage at the Tonight Show and showed my Vibra-Slap and my bongos to Johnny Carson who seemed to be impressed. I told Bobby I needed to make some more money so he said build a cabasa that didn't break. That brought about my second invention, Cabasa/Afuche. Bob was always a wonderful supporter of mine and offered council many times during my career.

An Excerpt from a Florida newspaper obit, written by Steve Voce:

[. . .] 'Less is more," said Bobby Rosengarden. It's a motto that could usefully be stapled across every drummer's kit. A master musician for most of his life, Rosengarden hated to have to take drum solos and thought that a four-bar break ought to be enough exposure for any drummer. He admired the flashy and pyrotechnical drummers - Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich - but only from the view of their technical accomplishments. [. . .]

[. . . ] His friend from the NBC days the trumpeter Yank Lawson invited him to join the World's Greatest Jazz Band in 1974 and he stayed for four years, touring the world. He became a regular at the Nice Jazz Festival, playing there each year from 1974 until the jazz element faded from the festival in the Nineties. In 1975 he went to Russia with the New York Jazz Repertory Company and in 1976 recorded and toured Europe with the Gerry Mulligan Sextet. After that he led a band for 14 years at the Rainbow Room on top of one of New York's skyscrapers. [. . . ]

* * *

The liner notes of "Walter Wanderley Samba Swing!" includes a telephone interview with Bobby Rosengarden.

* * *

In the album liner notes of Dick Hyman, "Brazilian Impressions", Command #RS911SD (yr. unknown), it says: ". . .Dick Hyman has followed these developments with keen interest--and often with the helpful assistant of percussionist Bobby Rosengarden, a Brazilian music buff who collects tapes of the work of Brazilian musicians of all kinds."

Back to Index