Roy McCurdy

Class of 2020
Roy McCurdy (Photo: Gary Leonard)

The list of artists with whom Roy McCurdy has recorded or toured is a stunning “Who’s Who” — Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Herbie Hancock, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Nancy Wilson, and Diana Krall, as well as fellow Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductees Chuck Mangione and Gap Mangione.

A Rochester native, McCurdy began playing drums at age 9 and took lessons as a teenager with Bill Street at the Eastman School of Music, and at age 17 performed with Roy Eldridge and Eddie Vinson. He continued to be inspired and influenced by many jazz greats in the circles in which he played.

Early in his career, in addition to serving in the U.S. Air Force, he joined the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet and then traveled internationally and extensively as a member of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. McCurdy has recorded chart-topping albums with pop artist Kenny Rankin and appears on Rollins’s 1963 classic “Sonny Meets Hawk,” Adderley’s Grammy-winning 1966 “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and 1983 album “Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company.” He also has done studio work for NBC and contributed to several commercial jingles.

Modern Drummer magazine noted that McCurdy opened the door for funk and fusion by emphasizing the backbeat and employing a definitive bass drum pattern.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, McCurdy described his love of performing music: “If everybody is playing together, if it’s happening right, then it would get to such a level that you would feel like you were floating, almost out of your body so that you could look down and watch yourself play. It’s a beautiful peak to get to.”

McCurdy serves as an adjunct professor in the Jazz Studies Department of the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California and serves on the faculty of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

Performance at the ceremony: Roy McCurdy will perform at the ceremony alongside Rochester-based musicians — Dan Vitale, bass; Colin Gordon, saxophone; Dino Losito, piano; and Bob Sneider, guitar.