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Alphonse Mouzon was one of the early leaders of the Jazz Fusion movement of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Mouzon was a versatile drummer who influenced other musicians beyond his spaces of jazz and R&B. He passed earlier this week after a battle with a rare form of cancer.

Mouzon was born November 21, 1948 in Charleston, S.C. After taking to music in high school, Mouzon traveled to New York for school and studied drama and music at the City College of New York and also studied medicine at the Manhattan Medical School. Mouzon furthered his training as a drummer under the tutelage of jazz pianist great Billy Taylor’s drummer, Bobby Thomas.

In the early ’70’s after playing in the Broadway show “Promises, Promises,” Mouzon was the final piece to the fusion band The Weather Report. Creative differences led to Mouzon leaving the band but he embarked on a long career as a band leader and side man from that point on. In 1972, Mouzon released the first of over two dozen albums with the debut album, “The Essence of Mystery.”

The remainder of the decade and much of the next, Mouzon played as a side man for Herbie Hancock, Roberta Flack, Betty Davis, and was a prominent member of Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House band. Mouzon’s last studio recording was 2011’s Angel Face on his label, Tenacious Records which he founded in the ’90’s.

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