Leon Parker (drums, percussion; b. 1965)
With an idea of explore how far one can take rhythm within and outside jazz, Leon Parker has shown that imagination, creativity and aesthetic can erupt in the smallest and sparsest of places. Leon Parker use of percussion's and drums was different from the onset. To me he must have been influenced by the late, great legend, Billy Higgins. He did a great bit of gigging in the New York scene before getting a gig with Columbia records which saw him becoming one the most talked about musicians during the '90s heyday for jazz scene. At the time artists like Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Waits, Charlie Hunter and others were stepping into the gap left by Miles, Monk, Dizzy and others.
While there were certainly a wealth of jazz drummers at the time ("Tain" being one of the most high profile) none seemed to be doing something different, original and rewarding like Parker. Leon Parker worked as a sideman with fellow artists such as Dewey Redman, Charlie Hunter, Dave Kikoski, Sam Newsome to name just a few. His albums seemed to combined the natural elements of modern jazz but his use or lack there of of most of his drum kit (using just the cymbals at times) gave the music a "world" or African atmosphere.