Vernel Fournier made his name as the deftly understated
and highly musical drummer in one of the most famous of all
modern jazz trios, led by pianist Ahmad Jamal. His subtle,
quicksilver touches with his trademark wire brushes
provided the flexible underpinning for a trio which thrived on
its supple manipulation of dynamics and use of space.
He was born Vernel Anthony Fournier in New Orleans, and
the distinctive rhythmic feel of the city never disappeared
from his music. He began playing parade drum at the age of
ten with a marching group, the Young Swingsters, and was
taught by the New Orleans drummer Sidney Montague while
still in school.
He attended Alabama State College in 1945-56, where he
played with the student ensemble, and also worked in his
home town with musicians from both the traditional and
bebop strands of the city’s musical culture