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October 10, 2006

Jazz Drummer Bernard Primeau Dies

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz news


Bernard Primeau
1939 – 2006
Jazz Final Notes

Jazz drummer Bernard Primeau Dies at 67

Renowned Canadian jazz drummer Bernie Primeau died of cancer on Monday at St. Luc Hospital in his native Montreal. He was 67.

Primeau’s death occurred the day before he was to be honoured at the launch of his 11th album at the Salles du Gesù. He had described his latest effort as the album of his career and it will be released as planned. It had already been announced he would not attend the launch due to his health.

Best known for his years in the 80’s with pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Charlie Biddle, Primeau began his professional musical career in 1956 doing drum rolls at a Montreal strip club. He went on to become one of Canada’s most renowned jazz musicians.

Bernard Joseph Roland Primeau was born in Montreal Jan. 5, 1939, in Montreal. He studied with drummer Guy Nadon then attended the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, where he studied percussion.

As a young musician, Primeau played with show bands in Montreal clubs, then spent a brief time in Bermuda before moving to San Francisco, where he spent the 1970’s.

Returning to Montreal in the early 80’s he founded the Montreal Jazz Sextet in 1984 (now known as the Bernard Primeau Montreal Jazz Ensemble), hiring some of the best young talent around, such as Rémi Bolduc, Yannick Rieu and Norman Guilbeault, and forming a local version of Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, Primeau’s greatest influence.

Primeau received last year’s Oscar Peterson Prize from the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal for his contributions to Canadian jazz.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

jazz final notes

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