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Gerald Cleaver

dr, *1963 US, Detroit
Musician / Composer of Jazz

African-American jazz drummer from Detroit, Michigan, USA, born 4 May 1963. Gerald Cleaver is one of the New York jazz scene’s leading drummer/composers, who covers a wide range of stylistic ground. Having played with jazz masters Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Ray Bryant as well as the leading lights of the AACM, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Threadgill, he is a product of many traditions within creative music. Cleaver is best known for his associations with Roscoe Mitchell, Charles Gayle, Miroslav Vitous, Mario Pavone, William Parker, Michael Formanek, Joe Morris, Jeremy Pelt, Craig Taborn and Yaron Herman. He is also the leader of the bands Uncle June (a reflection on the personal and familial challenges of Black Americans during The Great Migration featuring TonyMalaby, Andrew Bishop, Mat Maneri, Craig Taborn and Drew Gress), Violet Hour (a tribute to Detroit featuring Jeremy Pelt, JD Allen, Andrew Bishop, Ben Waltzer and Chris Lightcap), Black Host (a noisy avant-garde group featuring Pascal Niggenkemper, Cooper-Moore, Darius Jones and Brandon Seabrook) and Farmers By Nature (a free-improvising collective co-led with bassist William Parker and pianist Craig Taborn). Born 1963 and raised in Detroit, Cleaver is a product of the city’s rich music tradition. Inspired by his father, drummer John Cleaver, Jr. (whom Uncle June is named after), he began playing the drums at an early age. He later played violin in grade school and trumpet in junior high & high school. As a teenager he gained invaluable experience playing with Detroit jazz masters Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hamilton, Earl Van Riper, and Pancho Hagood. While attending the University of Michigan as a music education major he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Study Grant, to study with drummer Victor Lewis. He graduated in 1992 and began teaching in Detroit where he worked with Rodney Whitaker, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, and with visiting musicians Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Cecil Bridgewater, Eddie Harris, Howard Johnson, Diana Krall and Don Byron. In 1995 he accepted an appointment as assistant professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan, and in 1998 also joined the jazz faculty at Michigan State University. He moved to New York in 2002 and has since focused exclusively on playing. Cleaver has played and recorded with a cornucopia of artists including Franck Amsallem, Tim Ries, Lotte Anker, Reggie Workman, Marilyn Crispell, Matt Shipp, Kevin Mahogany, Ralph Alessi, Jacky Terrasson, Jimmy Scott, Muhal Richard Abrams, Dave Douglas, Roy Nathanson, Tim Berne, Jeremy Pelt, Ellery Eskelin, Charles McPherson, David Torn, Terje Rypdal and Lou Reed. His 2001 recording Adjust (Fresh Sound New Talent) was nominated in the Best Debut Recording category by the Jazz Journalists Association. Gerald Cleaver's Detroit (Fresh Sound New Talent), is an homage to his hometown and to the late, great Detroit drummers Roy Brooks, Lawrence Williams, George Goldsmith and Richard "Pistol" Allen. His latest recording with Uncle June, Be It As I See It (Fresh Sound New Talent) represents Cleaver’s most personal statement with regard to his familial past and his experience as an Black American.

  • Drums
  • Percussion
  • Vocals
  • Jazz
  • Electronic
  • Classical
Popular Tracks   
Ah-Leu-Cha on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Introspection on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
In Love in Vain on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Africaine on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Sippin' at Bell's on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Don't Misunderstand on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
My Ship on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Skydive on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
I Feel a Song Coming On on R&B / Rogers & Binney by Adam Rogers
Cooper-Moore on Griots by Gerald Cleaver

Track list and 30sec audio provided by

Band Members

Title Artist Year Type
What Is To Be DoneLarry Ochs / Nels Cline / Gerald Cleaver2019Album
New York TrioAngelika Niescier, Christopher Tordini, Gerald Cleaver Feat. Jonathan Finlayson2019Album
Songs Of The Wild CaveLarry Ochs, Gerald Cleaver2018Album
The Industry Of EntropyBrandon Lopez, Matthew Nelson, Andria Nicodemou, Gerald Cleaver2018Album
OctagonIvo Perelman, Nate Wooley, Brandon Lopez, Gerald Cleaver2017Album
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 1Ivo Perelman, Karl Berger, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 3Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 4Ivo Perelman, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
Our Earth / Our WorldPeter Kuhn • Dave Sewelson • Gerald Cleaver • Larry Roland2016Album
Breaking PointIvo Perelman, Mat Maneri, Joe Morris, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 6Ivo Perelman, Joe Morris, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 5Ivo Perelman, Joe Morris, Gerald Cleaver2016Album
Ida LupinoGiovanni Guidi / Gianluca Petrella / Louis Sclavis / Gerald Cleaver2016Album
ContinuumTaylor Ho Bynum, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver : Book Of Three2013Album
KalabalikAnders Nilsson / Gerald Cleaver / Raoul Björkenheim2012Album
AltitudeJoe Morris • William Parker • Gerald Cleaver2012Album
Living JellyIvo Perelman, Joe Morris, Gerald Cleaver2012Album
The Foreign LegionIvo Perelman / Matthew Shipp / Gerald Cleaver2012Album
Family TiesIvo Perelman / Joe Morris / Gerald Cleaver2012Album
Upcoming HurricanePascal Niggenkemper featuring Simon Nabatov, Gerald Cleaver2011Album
Be It As I See ItGerald Cleaver2010Album
Book Of ThreeTaylor Ho Bynum - John Hebert - Gerald Cleaver2010Album
Searching For AdamRodrigo Amado / Taylor Ho Bynum / John Hebert / Gerald Cleaver2010Album
Tivoli TrioTivoli Trio - Frank Carlberg, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver2010Album
N_Y ProjectRaphaël Imbert, Joe Martin, Gerald Cleaver2009Album
Live At The LoftLotte Anker / Craig Taborn / Gerald Cleaver2009Album
Floating IslandsLotte Anker / Craig Taborn / Gerald Cleaver2009Album
Farmers By NatureGerald Cleaver / William Parker / Craig Taborn2009Album
Gerald Cleaver's DetroitGerald Cleaver2007Album
Time & Imaginary TimeAndrew Bishop Feat. Gerald Cleaver, Tim Flood2006Album
TriptychLotte Anker / Craig Taborn / Gerald Cleaver2005Album
AdjustGerald Cleaver, Veil Of Names2001Album
External Links
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