Norman Marshall Villeneuve
Félix Award winner, band leader, recording artist and jazz master, hard driving bebop drummer NORMAN MARSHALL VILLENEUVE is an iconic and much beloved figure in Canadian jazz history. This veteran player has a successful career history spanning more than six decades.
Norm was born in Montreal on May 29, 1938 and grew up in the St. Henri district, in the famed Little Burgundy area, home to Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, the Sealy brothers, and Claude Ranger. He began his performance career as a tap dancer and singer, entertaining audiences from age 8. He studied piano at Union United Church with Daisy Peterson-Sweeney. With a natural talent for rhythm and love for jazz, at age 8 Norm began to teach himself how to play drums, avidly studying jazz legends Elvin Jones, Art Taylor, Philly Joe Jones, Shelly Manne and Art Blakey, to whom Norm has dedicated his life’s work.
At age 14 Norm entered the Quebec jazz scene as a professional drummer. The bright and talented young teenager was tapped by seasoned musicians to play concerts and gigs around Montreal. When he came of age, in the 60s and 70s, he worked the Montreal clubs - Arcade, Rockhead’s Paradise, Chez Paris, the Black Bottom and Café la Bohème. In the clubs he met jazz luminaries Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and his hero Art Blakey.
Villeneuve has worked with a legion of jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Oliver Jones, Junior Mance, Cootie Williams, Curtis Fuller, Dave Young, Julius Watkins, Frank Motley, Jackie McLean, Ray Draper, Jay McShann, Anita O’Day, Blossom Dearie, Renee Lee, Charlie Biddle, Nelson Symonds, Ivan Symonds, Maxine Sullivan, Charlie Rouse, Booker Irvin, Big Big Miller, “Wild Bill” Davison, Jack McDuff, Bill McBirnie, Bernie Senensky, Pat Labarbara, Jane Bunnett, Alex Dean, Reg Schwager and Jackie Richardson.
Villeneuve has performed and toured extensively with his cousin, esteemed pianist Oliver Jones who chose Norm as his drummer to tour with him throughout North and South America, once living in Puerto Rico for 11 months during an engagement at the Americana Hotel. With Oliver Jones, Norm toured with Renee Lee, Dave Young and Kenny Hamilton. Norm's credits includes several appearances on national television and a movie with the Olsen twins.
In 1974 Norm moved from Montreal to Toronto and quickly established himself as bossman at the jazz clubs around town, including the Royal York, Westbury, Bourbon Street, George’s Spaghetti House, Top O' The Senator, Bermuda Onion, The Pilot and The Rex. In 1991 Villenueve took his Norman Marshall Villeneuve Jazz Message Sextet on a successful cross-Canada tour. He has performed at some of the best known venues in Canada,including The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Air Canada Centre, Place des Arts, Jazz Bistro and House Of Jazz and at jazz festivals throughout Canada.
In 2013 Norm returned to his beloved Montreal where he continues his life's work.
Under his banner, “Norman Marshall Villeneuve’s Jazz Message” he has brought along and given innumerable performance opportunities to a new generation of those who now comprise the best of Canadian jazz, from established musicians, to college grads, to new Canadians - those who are now fast becoming jazz icons in their own right, including Robi Botos, Mike Downes, Grant Stewart, Eric Boucher, David Restivo, Bob Brough, Artie Roth, Gord Webster, Brownman Ali and Brian Chahley.
In 2012 Norm established the Norman Marshall Villeneuve Percussion Award. Each year the NMV Award goes to a second year percussion student of Toronto's Humber College who demonstrates high academic achievement, leadership, excellent music ability, and a passion for jazz.
With an outstanding career, Norm remains an active and respected leader on the Canadian jazz scene. Norm resides in Montreal.
© Norman Marshall Villeneuve
22" Crash/Ride "Vintage Old School" 1964
20" Crash/Ride "Vintage Old School" 1964
18" Flat Ride "Vintage Old School" 1964 3 Rivets
14" Hi Hat "Vintage Old School" 1964
ST. JAMES - In July my NMV's Jazz Message became a part of the "Jamming at St. James" initiative at St. James United...Read More