My Journey Into Jazz

A Jazz Drummer since the age of 16, Bobby Jospe tells his story. With a playlist of his 10 most influential Jazz Classics...

My journey into jazz began at a very early age in the 1950s.  My parents were Belgian and they both loved music. My father especially dug classical and jazz as well as music from other cultures. I grew up listening to Bach, Beethoven and Mahler but also to Armstrong, Ellington and Fitzgerald... and the list goes on. 

My Dad often stopped at Sam Goody’s near Grand Central Station on his way home to Westport, CT from work in NYC to buy records and often came home with amazing stuff from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. He taught me how to appreciate many different styles and genres of music, to deeply feel the music and to hold those feelings and emotions as special and meaningful. My Dad even put speakers in my bedroom and on weekends would often wake me up with Mozart. 

His love and enjoyment of music became my own. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s I was always listening to pop/rock radio, collecting records, and playing along with bongos. As a teenager, my best friend and I would spend hours playing on his father’s drum set along to 45s of “The Fire House Five”, a Dixieland band, a Ray Charles LP, “What I Say” and later to the Beatles. In 1966 when I got my first drum set and played my fist gigs I was mostly into rock and roll and pop but then I started listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Stan Getz and Miles Davis. 

It was the masterful drumming by Joe Morello and the lyricism of Paul Desmond, Stan Getz and Miles that inspired me to play jazz. I wanted to learn how to really swing and to play all styles of jazz including Afro Cuban and Brazilian Sambas and Bossas. The more I listened and learned the more I wanted to play jazz.

In 1967 while attending a private high school in Weston, Mass that focused on the arts, I became close friends with one of the students who was already a good jazz trumpeter and playing professionally. Having a friend to share this passion for playing jazz was fantastic! We began practicing together all the time and going to jam sessions. We both joined a Boston jazz-rock band called “Fire and Ice” and we both went on to have careers in jazz. 

In 1968 I enrolled in the Berklee School of Music’s summer school and studied with renowned drummer and teacher Alan Dawson. I started playing gigs and jamming around Boston until I moved to New York to attend New York University. From the 1960’s to today I still feel that same desire to play jazz, to study it, to share my experience with students and to perform styles of music from around the world. To me the beauty and maybe the most compelling part of jazz and music in general is that it’s a wonderful and never ending journey.





Robert Jospé began playing the drums at twelve and had his first professional performance in France at the age of sixteen. After graduating from NYU, he became an active player in the New York jazz and rock scene as well as co-leader of the fusion band Cosmology. He studied with Tony Williams and Bob Moses and performed with Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, John Schofield and John Abercrombie. Jospé currently leads his own band and teaches jazz drumming and rhythmic fluency at the University of Virginia.