Buzzy Drootin, a Russian-born jazz drummer whose career spanned a
half-century and who played with many leading jazz musicians, died
on Sunday at the Actors Fund Retirement and Nursing Home in
Englewood, N.J. He was 80.
He was born Benjamin Drootin in Russia, and when he was 5, his family
moved to the United States and settled in Boston. His father was a
clarinetist, and two of his brothers were also musicians. He began playing
the drums as a teenager, earning money in a local bar, and by 1940 he was
touring with the Jess Stacy All-Stars, a band that included Buck Clayton
and Lee Wiley.
From 1947 to 1951 he was the house drummer at Eddie Condon's in New
York. He also worked in clubs in Chicago and Boston, playing with
musicians like Wingy Manone, Jimmy McPartland and Doc Cheatham. He
made recordings in the 1950's and 60's with Tommy Dorsey, Bobby
Hackett and the Dukes of Dixieland and played with the Dixieland
All-Stars, the Jazz Giants and the Newport All-Stars, among other groups,
while touring extensively in the United States and Europe.
Mr. Drootin returned to Boston in 1973 and formed the Drootin Brothers
Jazz Band, with his brother Al, who survives him. In the 1980's he
appeared at the Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival, backing up musicians
like Wild Bill Davison and Chuck Hedges.
In addition to his brother Al, he is survived by a daughter, Natasha; two
sons, Peter and Tony; and two other brothers, Louie and Max.