Recording period between
b. 6 December 1937, Newark, New Jersey, USA, d. 30 September 2003, Newark, New Jersey, USA. As a small child, Gladden demonstrated a precocious interest in drumming, hammering away at the furniture until his mother bought him a set of drums. He attended Newark’s Arts High School, majoring in music, and was soon active in various local bands. His influences included Art Blakey and Max Roach, as well as New Jersey-based drummers Buddy Mack and Bobby Thomas. Among the musicians with whom he worked while he was in his early twenties were trumpeters Johnny Coles and Woody Shaw, saxophonists Conrad Lester and Buddy Terry, and organists Freddie Roach and Larry Young. In 1972 he toured with James Moody then worked with several jazz groups, including those led by Richie Cole, Kenny Dorham, Jimmy McGriff, Cecil Payne, Shirley Scott, and Horace Silver. His most important hiring was the decade-long spell he spent with Dexter Gordon. He joined Gordon’s quartet in 1977 and played on many international tours and several recording sessions, thus spreading audience awareness of his drumming skills. Gladden suffered a stroke in 1988, bringing his association with Gordon to an end. Later, diabetes still further curtailed his playing. During the 90s, Gladden played occasionally but rarely strayed far outside his home town. In 1995, he played on This One’s For Ja with ‘Big’ John Patton. A few months before his death, he took part in a photographic session, Great Day In Jersey, organized by the Newark Star-Ledger. Among other musicians with whom he played and recorded during his career were Chet Baker, George Cables, Kirk Lightsey, Jimmy Raney, John Stubblefield and Mickey Tucker.
A forceful drummer with impeccable time, Gladden was a player much valued by his associates, including bass player Rufus Reid, who for a while played alongside him in Gordon’s band: ‘He was easy to play with, but you had to be able to play or he’d run over you.’