Episode 20: Lionel Cordew

Tales with drummer/bassist/ guitarist/composer Lionel Cordew

My guest this month is another accomplished player that I have had the honor to work with while out on the Michael Franks tour. One of the first impressions you may get when first meeting Lionel Cordew is his open and easy going manner, his willingness to cooperate and to go beyond what is required in order to do the best job that he can. And man, can he do the best job. In fact not only is it the best job, but it is an exceptional job. And you don’t have to take my word for it. His resume speaks for itself.

In his career so far he has toured, performed and/or recorded with Mike Stern, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Franks Gino Vanelli, Angelique Kidjo, Lonnie Plaxico, Cassandra Wilson, Roberta Flack, Bill Evans, Gato Barbieri, Chico DeBarge, Kelly Price, Warren Hill, Jon Lucien, Nelson Rangell, Special EFX, The Fantasy Band, Leni Stern, Kirk Whalum, Mark Johnson, New York Voices, George Jinda, Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows, Christoph Spendel, Chieli Minucci, Mike Stern Band, Wayne Krantz, Regina Carter, and others. His tours have taken him from throughout the United States, to Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan and South America.

Mr. Cordew grew up in Queens, NY and until recently I wasn’t aware just how many prolific musicians were born, grew up and or lived in this unassuming borough of New York. Joining Lionel we have James Brown, Illinois Jacquet, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgearld, Lenny White, Marcus Miller, Omar Hakim, Najee, Lena Horne, Billy Holiday, Clarence Williams and his wife Eva Taylor, Count Basie, Clark Terry, Tony Bennett, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, …..

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

So its safe to assume that Lionel’s musical influences were not only interior experiences, growing up in a gifted musical family with his brothers as inspiration, motivation sprinkled with a little competitive spirit, but also exterior ones, his neighborhood/community surrounded by prodigious musicians that provided him with a daily diet of musical sustenance. This symphonic immersion from inside and outside is conspicuous when you hear him play because not only did he cut his teeth on drums, but he also learned how to play all types of percussive instruments, as well as guitar and bass.

This interview is a little different than the ones I’ve recorded in the past in that I venture into the technical, the mechanics of the instrument, such as drum configurations. I also realize that you can spend years around someone and always discover something amazing and new about them. What better way to come out of a hiatus than to interview Lionel Cordew, a true professional, talented, perceptive musician who has spent his life constantly learning, growing, not only as a drummer but as consummate musician.

You can connect and find out more about Lionel Cordew