Alphonse Mouzon


Alphonse Lee Mouzon (November 21, 1948 – December 25, 2016, aged 68) was an American jazz fusion drummer and the owner of Tenacious Records, a label that primarily released Mouzon's recordings. He was a composer, arranger, producer, and actor. He gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Early life

Mouzon, of African, French, and Blackfoot indian descent, was born on November 21, 1948, in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his first musical training at Bonds-Wilson High School, and moved to New York City upon graduation. He studied drama and music at the City College of New York, as well as medicine at Manhattan Medical School. He continued receiving drum lessons from Bobby Thomas, the drummer for jazz pianist Billy Taylor. He played percussion in the 1968 Broadway show Promises, Promises, and he then worked with pianist McCoy Tyner. He spent a year as a member of the jazz fusion band, Weather Report. After that Mouzon signed as a solo artist to the Blue Note label in 1972.


Mouzon's visibility increased during his tenure with guitarist Larry Coryell's Eleventh House fusion band from 1973 to 1975. Albums from this period include Introducing the Eleventh HouseLevel OneMind Transplant (a solo album), and in 1977, a reconciliation recording with Coryell entitled Back Together Again.

Mouzon recorded Mind Transplant in 1974 with guitarist Tommy Bolin, who had previously played on Billy Cobham's Spectrum.

He recorded four R&B albums: The Essence of Mystery (Blue Note, 1972), Funky Snakefoot (Blue Note, 1973), The Man Incognito (Blue Note, 1976) (including "Take Your Troubles Away"), and in the 1980s By All Means, which featured Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, the Seawind Horns, and Freddie Hubbard.

Mouzon performed with many prominent jazz-fusion musicians. In 1991, he performed with Miles Davis on the movie soundtrack album entitled Dingo. Mouzon composed the song The Blue Spot for the jazz club scene, and appeared as an actor and drummer in the Tom Hanks-directed film, That Thing You Do in 1996. Alphonse Mouzon played the role of Miles in the film The Highlife, which was exhibited at a film festival in Houston in 2003. He also can be seen with Michael Keaton and Katie Holmes in the film First Daughter, and as Ray in the movie The Dukes, along with Robert Davi, Chazz Palminteri and Peter Bogdanovich.

Mouzon played with Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Patrick Moraz, Betty Davis, and Chubby Checker. Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zeppelin, during his acceptance speech for induction into the 1995 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, listed Alphonse Mouzon as one of the band's influences from American music.

In 1992, Mouzon formed Tenacious Records, and released his album The Survivor. Subsequent releases on Tenacious Records, including re-issues of earlier albums, included On Top of the WorldEarly SpringBy All MeansLove FantasyBack to JazzAs You WishThe Night is Still YoungThe Sky is the LimitDistant LoverMorning Sun, and Absolute Greatest Love Songs and Ballads.

The 1981 album Morning Sun was his most successful album in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines. Most songs in the album, notably the title track, were extensively played on various FM and AM radio stations during that time, and are still being used in advertisements, commercials, social events, and radio news programmes in that country.

Mouzon played on a recording with Albert Mangelsdorff (trombone), and Jaco Pastorius (bass), named Trilogue. Originally recorded in 1976, and re-released in 2005, this performance was from November 6, 1976, at the Berlin Jazz Days.

In 2014, Mouzon was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock legends El Chicano, as well as David Paich, Brian Auger, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Salvador Santana, and Spencer Davis, and is featured on drums on two tracks Make Love and The Viper, that are part of Gallagher's most recent studio album due to be released in 2019.

Health problems and death

On September 7, 2016, Mouzon was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. His son, Jean-Pierre Mouzon, reported that his father had died of cardiac arrest at his home in Granada Hills, Los Angeles, California, on December 25, 2016, aged 68.


As leader

  • 1973 The Essence of Mystery (Blue Note)
  • 1974 Funky Snakefoot (Blue Note)
  • 1975 Mind Transplant (Blue Note)
  • 1976 The Man Incognito (Blue Note)
  • 1977 Virtue (MPS)
  • 1977 Back Together Again
  • 1978 In Search of a Dream (MPS)
  • 1979 Baby Come Back (MPS)
  • 1981 By All Means (Tenacious)
  • 1981 Morning Sun (Tenacious)
  • 1982 Step into the Funk (Polydor)
  • 1984 Distant Lover (Tenacious)
  • 1985 Back to Jazz (Tenacious)
  • 1985 The Sky Is the Limit (Tenacious)
  • 1986 Eleventh House (Pausa)
  • 1987 Love, Fantasy (Tenacious)
  • 1988 Early Spring (Tenacious)
  • 1988 Talk Back (WEA)
  • 1989 As You Wish (Tenacious)
  • 1992 The Survivor (Tenacious)
  • 1994 On Top of the World (Tenacious)
  • 1996 Secret Message (Prudence)
  • 1996 The Night is Still Young (Tenacious)
  • 2001 Live in Hollywood (Tenacious)
  • 2008 Jazz in Bel-Air (Tenacious)
  • 2011 Angel Face (Tenacious)

As sideman

With Arild Andersen

  • A Molde Concert (ECM, 1981)

With Donald Byrd

  • Caricatures (1976)

With Herbie Hancock

  • Directstep (1979)
  • Mr. Hands (1980)
  • Monster (1980)
  • Magic Windows (1981)

With Bobbi Humphrey

  • Dig This! (1972)

With John Klemmer

  • Magic and Movement (Impulse!, 1974)

With Joachim Kühn

  • Hip Elegy (1975)

With Les McCann

  • Invitation to Openness (Atlantic, 1972)

With McCoy Tyner

  • Sahara (1972)
  • Song for My Lady (1972)
  • Song of the New World (1973)
  • Enlightenment (1973)

With Wayne Shorter

  • Odyssey of Iska (1971)

With Weather Report

  • Weather Report (1971)

With Eugene McDaniels

  • Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971)

With Betty Davis

  • Hangin' Out in Hollywood / Crashin' from Passion (1976/1995/1996)

With MOUZON (rapper aka Alphonse Philippe Mouzon)

  • The Main Attraction (2010)

With Infinity

  • Now (1990)

With Doug Carn

  • Spirit of the New Land (1972)

With Norman Connors

  • Dance of Magic (1973)

With Willie Colon

  • El Baquine de Angelitos Negros (1977)

With Poussez

  • Poussez! (Vanguard, 1979)

With Larry Coryell

  • Introducing Eleventh House with Larry Coryell (1973)
  • Live in Montreux (1974)
  • Level One (1974)
  • Planet End (1975)
  • The Coryells (1999)

With Al Di Meola

  • Land of the Midnight Sun (1976)

With Torsten de Winkel and Hellmut Hattler

  • Mastertouch (1992)

With Miles Davis

  • Dingo (1990)

With Gil Evans

  • Blues in Orbit (1969)

With Roberta Flack

  • Feel Like Makin' Love (1974)

With Fania All-Stars

  • Fania All-Stars – Live (1978)

With Carlos Garnett

  • The New Love (1976)

With George Gruntz

  • Palais Anthology (1975)

With Tim Hardin

  • Bird on a Wire' (1971)

With Miki Howard

  • Three Wishes (2001)

With Paul Jackson

  • Black Octopus (1978)

With Paul Jackson Jr.

  • Never Alone (1996)

With Alphonso Johnson

  • Moonshadows (1976)

With Patrick Moraz

  • The Story of I (1976)

With Jeremy Steig

  • Temple of Birth (Columbia, 1975)


  • Listed in the 2nd edition of Marquis Who's Who in Entertainment and Who's Who in the World.
  • Voted the No. 2 best multi-instrumentalist in the 1995 JAZZIZ Magazine Annual Readers Poll.


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