Because for two months shy of 40 years (including seven years in which the group was on "vacation"), Connie Kay was the drummer/percussionist with the Modern Jazz Quartet. His subtle contributions (showing both restraint and swing) were an invaluable asset to the group. Self-taught on the drums, Kay played in the mid-'40s with Sir Charles Thompson, Miles Davis, and Cat Anderson. He was in Lester Young's quintet off and on during 1949-1955, a period in which Kay also worked with Beryl Booker, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker, among others. In February 1955, he joined the MJQ, traveling the world with the band up until they called it "quits" in 1974.
During that era, he also appeared as a guest on small-group dates by Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Heath, and Paul Desmond/Jim Hall. During 1975-1981, Kay worked with Tommy Flanagan, Soprano Summit, Benny Goodman (including his 40th anniversary Carnegie Hall concert), and was the house drummer at Eddie Condon's club. He spent his last 13 years back with the MJQ; Mickey Roker filled in when he was ill and Albert "Tootie" Heath took over the drum slot after Connie Kay's death. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide