Recording period between
b. Frederick Douglas Waits, 27 April 1943, Jackson, Mississippi, USA, d. 18 November 1989, New York City, New York, USA. Although Waits first played and studied flute, he began playing drums at an early age. His professional career began with blues singers, including John Lee Hooker and Memphis Slim. He then became a regular on Motown Records’ sessions, including working in bands led by Jimmy Wilkins and Paul Winters, mostly in the Detroit area, before a spell on the west coat which found him appearing with Gerald Wilson’s big band. This was in the early 60s and before long he moved to New York. There, he played with many leading artists, such as Wild Bill Davis, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and Cedar Walton. From the start of the 70s he also played with Max Roach’s percussion ensemble, M’Boom, appearing on a 1979 recording for Columbia Records.
In the early 70s Waits was often in groups supporting singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Carmen McRae. He was also a member of Billy Taylor’s trio and of Dick Hyman’s New York Jazz Repertory Company, and groups led by Teddy Edwards, Mercer Ellington and Curtis Fuller. He also played and sometimes recorded with numerous noted artists in the swing, bop, post-bop and free jazz genres, among them Kenny Barron, Marion Brown, Ray Bryant, Donald Byrd, Stanley Cowell, Bill Dixon, Sir Roland Hanna, Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, Abbey Lincoln, Lee Morgan, Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor. In the late 70s, Waits formed the group Colloquium III with Horace Arnold and Billy Hart. Active in education, in the 80s Waits became a faculty member at Rutgers University. A fluent and inventive drummer, Waits had a broad talent that allowed him to fit comfortably into bands across a very wide spectrum. His son, Nasheet Waits, is also a drummer.