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Alvin Leroy Queen was born in New York on August 16, 1950. He started playing drums when he was eight years old: he would shine shoes to pay for drum lessons. Still on his early ‘teens, he would lie about his age to get into the Jazz clubs, and received on stage tuition by Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Art Taylor or Elvin Jones. Alvin met John Coltrane when he was twelve, and Horace Silver when he was fourteen, and was already enough of a player to be allowed to sit in with them.
In 1968 he started working with Horace Silver, and the next year he became a regular member of the George Benson Quartet, appearing on the Johnny Carson Show. In 1969 Alvin worked with Stanley Turrentine, and was featured on several TV shows.
In November 1970, trumpet star Charles Tolliver hired Alvin for his first European tour. Alvin stayed with Tolliver on and off for about eight years: during this period he also worked with Milt Jackson, Leon Thomas, Pharoah Sanders and Wild Bill Davis. By 1979, Alvin decided to settle in Europe, and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he has been residing for more than thirty years.
In 1982 Alvin founded his own record company, Nilva Records, and for the next decade produced records for Bill Saxton, John Collins, Junior Mance, Ronnie Mathews, Ray Drummond, John Hicks and may others.
During the eighties, and until his untimely death, Alvin was a member of the Kenny Drew Trio, which also featured the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. This trio became immensely popular both in Japan and Europe, recording several CD’s and DVD’s for the Japanese label Alpha Records.
Alvin also worked and recorded through the early nineties with tenor saxophone stars such as George Coleman, Johnny Griffin or Bennie Wallace. One of the most versatile drummers in the world of Jazz, Alvin was equally at ease playing with veterans of the Swing Era, such as Red Richards, Wild Bill Davis or Harry Sweets Edison.
In the last decades, Alvin has remained one of the most in demand freelance drummers in the world of Jazz: he can be found working in Tokio, New York and Barcelona in within the same week, and the list of musicians he has worked with would easily fill up this page.
A lot of the young players, like Roy Hargrove, Jesse Davis or Russell Malone have been very interested in working with Alvin, who represents a link between the great masters of the fifties and sixties and the world of contemporary Jazz.