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Jeremy Cunningham

Jeremy Cunningham is a drummer, composer, and improviser. Originally from Cincinnati, he moved to Chicago in 2009, where he currently performs and composes as an integral part of the city’s vibrant music scene.

As a teenager, Cunningham grew serious about performing music during his time with a jam band called “Ray’s Music Exchange.” There, he learned the intricacies of playing with a large group, and dove headlong into the jazz of the late 60s and early 70s. He holds a Bachelors of Music from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he studied with professor John Von Ohlen, whose zen, loose approach toward drumming continues to inform Cunningham’s technique today. Coltrane (and, by extension, Elvin Jones) is another huge influence; Cunningham cites an early introduction to “Live at Birdland” as a formative musical experience.

Since moving to Chicago, Cunningham has carved out a reputation for a sensitivity to the music, a distinctive touch on the cymbals, and an ability to create textures as a counterpoint to the soloist. He has performed with an impressive roster of luminaries such as Von Freeman, Chris Foreman, Jeff Parker, Mike Allemana, Marquis Hill, Caroline Davis, Nick Mazzarella, and Dave Miller. He can be heard on Marquis Hill's albums "New Gospel" and "Sounds of the City," as well as Caroline Davis's "Live, Work, Play." In addition to performing in clubs and festivals throughout Chicago, Cunningham also appears throughout the United States with various projects. He’s has toured internationally with IsWhat?!, the Moshier/Lebrun Collective, and Paul Giallorenzo's GitGo.

Most recently, Cunningham is finishing up his Masters in Jazz Performance at DePaul University and working on Meridian Trio, a collaborative effort with Nick Mazzarella and Matt Ulery. He is also releasing his first album as a bandleader, re: dawn (from far). The album, out on ears&eyes Records, was recorded with some of Cunningham’s closest colleagues and mentors: Jeff Parker, Josh Johnson, and Ulery. It will be released on June 17.


Album Review

Dave Rempis: Stringers & Struts

Read "Stringers & Struts" reviewed by John Sharpe

Chicago-based reedman Dave Rempis has hit such a peak of consistency that the number of stars awarded to any particular outing is more down to personal preference than any variation in quality. He's in control of his own destiny as most of his output flows from his own Aerophonic imprint. And he's achieved another high point with Stringers And Struts, the result of a one-off gathering of Windy City improvisers in town for the 2019 Chicago Jazz Fest, which makes ...

Album Review

Rempis/Parker/Flaten/Cunningham: Stringers & Struts

Read "Stringers & Struts" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Imagine if the listener could choose bands or combinations of musicians like a fantasy football game. They would compile discographies and note when certain players crossed paths, or imagine new combinations of dissimilar styles. This is obviously not an original idea because Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis has been drafting varying combinations of talented players for more than a decade. The majority of his fantasy leagues can be heard at Elastic Arts where he curates a weekly series, at the Hyde ...

Album Review

Jeremy Cunningham: The Weather Up There

Read "The Weather Up There" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

The complex landscape of human emotions is still vastly uncharted, but every true work of art adds a little piece to the puzzle. This can be done in many ways, but it is rare that an album connects emotion with complex layers of memory, interpersonal relations, politics and societal structures. Nevertheless, this is what drummer and composer Jeremy Cunningham's album does. In a statement, Cunningham explains the background: “I wrote The Weather Up There to confront the ...

Album Review

Jeremy Cunningham Quartet: re: dawn (from far)

Read "re: dawn (from far)" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

Since he moved to Chicago in 2009, Jeremy Cunningham has been a vital addition to the jazz environment and his debut as a leader, re: dawn (from far) , shows an assured musician and composer who effortlessly taps into the great musical tradition of the city. Cunningham has teamed up with one of the architects of the modern Chicago sound, guitarist Jeff Parker, who lends his signature sound to the album. His chugging rhythms, beautiful harmonies and ...

Album Review

Jeremy Cunningham Quartet: re : dawn (from far)

Read "re : dawn (from far)" reviewed by Vincenzo Roggero

Le presenze di Jeff Parker, storico chitarrista di Tortoise, e di Matt Ulery, contrabbassista e band leader tra i più interessanti e richiesti dell'ultima generazione, alimentava grandi aspettative riguardo l'album di debutto da leader di Jeremy Cunningham, promettente batterista della nuova scena di Chicago. Non che Re: Dawn (From Far) sia un album mediocre ma la sensazione che si riveli un'occasione mancata è difficile da scacciare. Vi è un'indubbia ricerca sul suono e sulle combinazioni timbriche tra ...

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“…thunderous energy… great precision and intensity.” —WX5U, Detroit

"Cunningham has proved himself a nimble and versatile figure in a variety of mainstream and cutting-edge jazz ensembles, the Chicago drummer perhaps best known for his collaborations with trumpeter Marquis Hill." -Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced


MM Jazz Performance DePaul University BM Jazz Performance University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Weather Up There

Northern Spy Records


Imagined Sky

Whirlwind Recordings


Stringers & Struts

Aerophonic Records


re : dawn (from far)

ears&eyes Records


re: dawn (from far)

ears&eyes Records



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