Norman Connors is an American jazz drummer, composer, arranger, and producer who has led some influential jazz and R&B groups. He also achieved several big R&B hits of the day, especially with love ballads.
Connors became interested in jazz as a child when he began to play drums, once sitting in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane performance he attended while in middle school. Connors studied music at Temple University and Juilliard.
His first recording was on Archie Shepp's 1967 release, Magic of JuJu. He played with Pharaoh Sanders for the next few years until signing with Cobblestone Records in 1972 and releasing his first record as a bandleader. He went on to front some great jazz recordings with Carlos Garnett, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Herbie Hancock such as "Love From the Sun" on Buddah records..
Connors began to focus more on R&B material in the mid 1970s after signing with Buddah Records. He scored several US hits with songs featuring guest vocalists such as Michael Henderson, Jean Carn, and Phyllis Hyman. The most successful of these was "You Are My Starship" (#4 R&B, #27 Pop), featuring Henderson in 1976, while "Valentine Love", his first chart success, made #10 R&B in 1975, with vocals from Henderson and Jean Carn. Dee Dee Bridgewater also performed with him on the jazz album "Love from the Sun". He has also produced recordings for various artists, including collaborators like Jean Carn, Phyllis Hyman, Al Johnson, Norman Brown, and saxophonist Marion Meadows.
Connors' crossover to the disco scene was in 1980 when he had the hit 'Take it to the Limit' recorded on Arista Records which was released on 12" single. The B side called 'Black Cow' (an instrumental) was written by Steely Dan'sWalter Becker and Donald Fagen.
- Dance of Magic (Cobblestone Records, 1973)
- Dark of Light (Buddah Records, 1973)
- Love from the Sun (Buddah, 1974)
- Slewfoot (Buddah, 1974)
- Live at Nemu Jazz Inn - 1 (Nippon Columbia/Cobblestone, 1975)
- Saturday Night Special (Buddah, 1975)
- You Are My Starship (Buddah, 1976)
- Romantic Journey (Buddah, 1977)
- This Is Your Life (Buddah/Arista, 1978)
- Invitation (Buddah/Arista, 1979)
- Take it to the Limit (Arista Records, 1980)
- Mr.C (Arista, 1981)
- Passion (Capitol Records, 1988)
- Remember Who You Are (MoJazz, 1993)
- Easy Living (Motown Records, 1996)
- Eternity (Starship Records, 2000)
- Star Power (Shanachie Records, 2009)
With Sam Rivers
With Pharoah Sanders