John Betsch - drums, composition

Photo © L. M. Svirchev

John Betsch was born on October 8, 1945 in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother was a church organist and pianist; his older sister a dramatic soprano singer.

John began playing drums in the school orchestra at the age of nine. At age 18, while still student at Fisk University (Nashville, Tenn.), he began playing professionally with pianist Bob Holmes, Ernest Vantrease and trumpeter Louis Smith. John studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and the University of Massachussetts Amherst under Max Roach and Archie Shepp. He has taught at UMASS and in the state prison education programs. In 1975 he moved to New York City where he played with Roland Alexander, Dewey Redman, the Paul Jeffrey octet; vocalists Jeanne Lee, Abbey Lincoln, and the Ted Daniel big band. He toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Africa, notably with Max Roach (Newport 1974), Dewey Redman (1979), Kalaparusha (Berliner Jazztage 1976), Abdullah Ibrahim (1979), the Klaus Konig Orchestra and Steve Lacy.

Since moving to Europe in 1985, where he is now based, John has participated in recordings and tours with saxophonists Mike Ellis, Hal Singer and Jim Pepper; vocalists Ozay and Annette Lowman; pianists Mal Waldron, Alain Jean-Marie, Claudine François and Kirk Lightsey. He has toured Japan with Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, Eric Watson and Michel Sardaby.

John Betsch is currently working with Steve Lacy, Jeanne Lee and Alain Jean-Marie.

Partial discography

Albums Artists Labels
The Fire Within Billy Bang Soul Note
Earth Blossom John Betsch Society Strata East
The Journey Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) Chiascuro
Africa Tears & Laughter Enja
Nightwork Marty Cook Enja
Red, White, Black & Blue Enja
Live in Berlin Marilyn Crispell Soul Note
What Else is New? Mike Ellis Pan
Camarague Claudine François Pan
Lazy Afternoon Alain Jean-Marie Shäi
Kwanza Kalaparusha Bay State
Times of Devastation Kalus Konig Enja
Anthem Steve Lacy RCA Novus
Monk's Dream Verve
The Rent Cavity Search
Bye-Ya Freelance
Clangs Soul Note
Revenue Soul Note
Inside Lookin' Out Simon Nabatov Tutu
The Path Jim Pepper Tutu
Dakota Song Tutu
Remembrance Tutu
I Was Just… Elvira Plenar Freeform
Conversations Dan Rose Tutu
I Know About the Life Archie Shepp Sackville
My Man Blue Marge
When Was That Henry Threadgill About Time
Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket About Time
Subject to Change About Time
No More Tears Mal Waldron Alfa Jazz
Spring in Prague Alfa Jazz
Mal, Dance & Soul Tutu
Live at Utopia Vol. I & II Tutu

more albums with Steve Lacy with the interactive discography


John Betsch c/o Senators (