Drummer Frank Butler's career began on USO shows during the Second World War and went out with what is probably considered even more of a bang to jazz fans, a pair of superb albums for the Xanadu label released in the late '70s. He died a bit more than five years after finally getting his chance to take charge of a recording session.
Born and hailed in Kansas City in 1928, he played drums in high-school bands, then local jazz combos. In terms of the big-name scene he made an auspicious debut, taking charge of the drum chair in the Dave Brubeck combo during a 1950 engagement in swinging San Francisco.
Butler would eventually win praise from some difficult taskmasters, including Miles Davis. The drummer's precision chops were honed during an extended stint with pianist Edgar Hayes from 1951 through 1953, preparing him for a period that followed with Duke Ellington. The fiery leader and...