Reggie Nicholson-Drummer, Percussionist, Composer

Continuing in the tradition of drummer bandleaders such as Max Roach, Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Sunny Murray, Milford Graves and Jack DeJohnette, Reggie Nicholson has firmly established his reputation in this great tradition.

Reggie first gained a reputation as an outstanding drummer and percussionist in his home town of Chicago. In 1979 he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a consortium of composers and performers devoted to the art of improvisation and the creation of original music. Nicholson forged a musical relationship with members of the group including Muhal Richard Abrams, Mwata Bowden, Anthony Braxton, Phil Cohran, Ernest Dawkins, Douglas Ewart, Alvin Felder, Joseph Jarman, Steve McCall, Amina Claudine Myers, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, Rita Warford, and Edward Wilkerson, Jr. In 1984, Nicholson premiered his compositions for trio, which included AACM members Light Henry Huff and Yosef Ben Israel. This was Nicholson’s first “Concept” that established his own compositional approach.

Since moving to New York City in 1987, Nicholson has performed with Ahmed Abdullah, Billy Bang, Roy Campbell, Bryan Carrott, Marty Ehrlich, Yuko Fujiyama, Charles Gayle, Jon Hendricks, D.D. Jackson, Leroy Jenkins , Brad Jones, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Michael Marcus, Myra Melford, Butch Morris, Wilbur Morris, William Parker, Ned Rothenberg, James Spaulding, and Ruben Wilson. He has recorded with Muhal Richard Abrams (Family Talk; Think All, Focus One; Song for All; One Line, Two Views); Anthony Braxton (Trillium R); Leroy Jenkins (Live!); Myra Melford (Jump; Now & Now; Even the Sounds Shine; Alive in the House of Saints); Amina Claudine Myers (Jumping in the Sugar Bowl; Country Girl; Amina; Women in (E) Motion Festival); Henry Threadgill (You Know the Number; Easily Slip into Another World; Rag, Bush and All); and Roy Campbell, Yuko Fujiyama, Charles Gayle, Michael Marcus, Butch Morris, Wilber Morris, James Spaulding, and Edward Wilkerson, Jr.

In 1997, Nicholson recorded his first CD of new compositions for his quintet, The Reggie Nicholson Concept. Called Unnecessary Noise Allowed, it featured Brad Jones, Bruce Edwards, Gene Ghee, and Mark McGowan. He subsequently recorded Percussion Peace for solo percussion and electronics. In 2007, Nicholson composed and performed live Timbre Suite (Tone Colors) for The Reggie Nicholson Percussion Concept featuring Warren Smith, Don Eaton, and Salim Washington. Nicholson’s latest recording, Surreal Feel, shows the maturity and growth of his compositional skills with The Reggie Nicholson Brass Concept, featuring Joseph Daley, Vincent Chancey, James Zollar, and Curtis Fowlkes. He was nominated for a Cal-Arts Award in 1993.

Nicholson has performed his music throughout Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City, including in the AACM concert series and at the Kennedy Center, Roulette, The Stone, Hot House, Rituals, Velvet Lounge, the Interpretations series, Cooler by the Shade, the Vision Festival, and Sistas’ Place. He has performed in many clubs and festivals in Europe and Japan.


"Reggie Nicholson creating exquisite splashes of color and unmetered cascades on the drums." Chicago Tribune

"Drummer Reggie Nicholson not only provided the glue that held the various moods together, but soloed with the same purpose and tonal consciousness as the front line." LA Times

 “Nicholson's underpinning leads perfectly to a spectacular tenor solo,”  AllAboutJazz

“Nicholson seems to have learned well from Henry Threadgill and Muhal Richard Abrams how to write advantageously for the instruments, using melody, harmony and counterpoint to put together uncommon and attractive forms.”  AllAboutJazz


Subpages (1): Discography