Joe Morello On Video: Performances & Lessons

By Andy Doerschuk
Published March 13, 2011

We’re lucky that Joe Morello’s technique and taste will live on through a wealth of video featuring the great drummer throughout his long career. Here’s are a handful of notable selections that demonstrate his powerful musicianship, beginning with a number of live performances.


Of course, Morello is best known for his groundbreaking drum solo in 5/4 on the song “Take Five,” from the 1959 release, Time Out. Check out his one-handed roll on this 1961 performance, played with bare hands, no less!

This version of “Take Five” was recorded in Belgium in 1964, and offers just about the cleanest looking live footage of The Dave Brubeck Quartet we could find.

Another “Take Five” solo from 1961, in which Morello adds a number of inventive new ideas in his solo.


In this 1964 cut, Joe Morello plays a burning solo with the Dave Brubeck Quartet on “Sounds Of The Loop,” a track from The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s 1957 release, Jazz Impressions Of The U.S.A.


“Castilian Blues,” another 5/4 composition with a drum solo, debuted on Brubeck’s 1962 release, Countdown: Time In Outer Space. It’s interesting to contrast this version, recorded on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual television show, with “Take Five.” Most notably, it deliberately doesn’t swing quite as hard, demonstrating Morello’s mastery of feel.


Here’s another cut from the band’s 1964 appearance in Belgium that, for once, gives you a chance to see Morello solo in standard time.


An early video from 1959 of the Quartet playing Billy Strayhorn’s classic while on tour in Italy. Here we get to watch how Morello builds a drum solo while trading fours with Brubeck.


Later in life, Morello stopped touring and began teaching lessons to generations of drumming students who were hungry to tap into his knowledge. In this video, Morello demonstrates a whipping stick technique, which he used primarily to play accents.

In this video, taken from Hudson Music’s Art Of Brushes DVD, Morello demonstrates his delicate brush technique to another great jazz drummer, Steve Smith.