Frankie Dunlop, an underrated and unsung giant of jazz percussion, was probably the best drummer Thelonious Monk ever had next to Art Blakey. Dunlop spent three years with Monk, from 1960 to 1963. He drove the Maynard Ferguson big band from 1958 to 1960, and worked with just about every jazz legend from every era, including Charlie Mingus, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Earl Hines and Lionel Hampton.
Frankie Dunlop's melodic sensitivity and ability as a true improviser at virtually every tempo are very much in evidence in this beautifully crafted drum solo. Surprisingly, Gene Krupa was so taken with Dunlop's playing, that he engineered Dunlop's first drum endorsement deal with the Slingerland company.
Francis "Frankie" Dunlop grew up in a musical family and began playing guitar at age nine and drums at ten. He was playing professionally by age 16 and received some classical education in percussion. He toured with Big Jay McNeely and recorded with Moe Koffman in 1950 before serving in the Army during the Korean War.
After his discharge he played with Sonny Stitt, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins (1958, 1966–67), Maynard Ferguson (1958–60), Lena Horne, Duke Ellington (1960), and Thelonious Monk (1960–64); it is for his recordings with the last of these that he is principally remembered. Later in his life he recorded with Lionel Hampton (1975–81), Earl Hines (1973–74), Ray Crawford, and Joe Zawinul.
In 1984 Frankie Dunlop retired, having recorded on over 100 albums.
Frankie Dunlop passed away at the age of 85 in July 2014. Having battled a prolonged illness for the past several decades, Dunlop left behind a legacy of musical greatness that has garnered the esteem of fellow musicians and jazz fans alike.