When I started thinking about how to introduce Harvey Mason, I had to give up: on the one hand, he needs no introduction; on the other hand, trying to list even a fraction of his credits would take the skills of a speed-talker.
Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, James Brown, Bob James, Carole King, Ray Charles, Chet Atkins, Roberta Flack, Carlos Santana, Frank Sinatra, Seal, Brandy, Bjork, Cher, Prince, Dr. John, B.B. King, Fourplay, Earth Wind and Fire, Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, Grover Washington Jr., Dionne Warwick, Herb Alpert, Vanessa Williams, Pearl Bailey, Chick Corea, Stevie Wonder, The London Symphony Orchestra…enough. Speed-talking is not my gift, and I am still going to have to skip most of his credits.
Let’s settle for a couple highlights. He played on Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters album and it moved Fusion Jazz into the music mainstream. High-school bands are still playing Chameleon, a song he co-wrote. He played on George Benson’s Breezin’ album and that moved smooth Jazz into the mainstream. It is still the best-selling pure Jazz album of all time.
Harvey has played on so many movie soundtracks that for 25 years, he was the only choice for the Oscar awards show— he alone could count-in the tempo to the winning movie’s theme song in the time it took to open the announcer’s envelope, because he alone had already recorded most of the nominees’ themes.
Drumming isn’t the whole story either: He has arranged, scored, and written countless songs for top-ten artists and films alike. He is a producer, a ten-time Grammy nominee, and Father of the famous music producer and songwriter Harvey Mason Junior.
The music we listen to would be different if not for Harvey. All the more important for us to hear the music Harvey listens to.
Listen to the Harvey Mason Podcast
Harvey Mason’s Playlist
Hitting the Jug — Gene Ammons Quintet
Album: Boss Tenor, 1960
Drums: Art Taylor
Seven Steps to Heaven — Miles Davis
Album: Four & More: Recorded Live in Concert, 1966
Drums: Tony Williams
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs — Chick Corea
Album: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, 1968
Drums: Roy Haynes
Caravan — Art Blakey
Album: Caravan, 1963
Drums: Art Blakey
Poinciana — Ahmad Jamal
Album: Poinciana, 1963
Drums: Vernell Fournier
Heatwave — Martha and the Vandellas
Album: Heatwave, 1963
Drums: Richard “Pistol” Allen
Superbad — James Brown
Drums: Jabo Starks
The Funky Drummer — James Brown
Drums: Clyde Stubblefield
So What — Miles Davis
Album: Kind of Blue, 1959
Drums: Jimmy Cobb
Norwegian Wood — Buddy Rich Big Band
Album: Big Swing Face, 1967
Drums: Buddy Rich
Topsy, Part 2 — Cozy Cole
Drums: Cozy Co