Basic Background Info

Birth: July 1, 1952
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
Band: Independent
Genres: Jazz, Funk
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician, Composer, Producer, Instructor



Leon Ndugu Chancler, born in Shreveport, Louisiana, grew interested in drums as a small child, beating on cans and oatmeal boxes. During high school, he played with Willie Bobo and the Harold Johnson Sextet. Ndugu Chancler later learned from Nelson Riddle, Gerald Wilson, Harold Land, Stix Hooper, and Eddie Davis. Ndugu earned a degree in music education from California State University in Dominguez Hills while he played with the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Hugh Masakela, and Bobby Hutcherson.

Ndugu Chancler was then an in-demand studio musician. Ndugu Chancler performed with Stanley Clarke, Donna Summer, George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Carlos Santana, Hubert Laws, The Crusaders, Frank Sinatra, Weather Report, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Thelonious Monk, Weather Report and John Lee Hooker. Ndugu worked with Micahel Jackson, recording Thriller and Bad and the hit single "Billie Jean." 

Ndugu Chancler also performed on movie soundtracks for An Officer and a Gentleman, Indecent Proposal, and The Color Purple. As a songwriter, Ndugu Chancler created "Dance Sister Dance" for Carlos Santana, "Reach For It" for George Duke, and "Let it Whip" for the Dazz Band. Ndugu Chancler served as producer for Flora Prium, Bill Summers, and his solo recordings. Ndugu Chancler co-produced work for Santana, George Duke, The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Tina Turner, and Ernie Watts. He also co-led a group with Patrice Rushen and produced their work.

Currently and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Ndugu Chancler shares his experience with his students. "I love teaching because I am remaining connected to the pulse of the future. My students and I learn from each other."


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1966 Excursions Eddie Harris
1967 Milestone Years Joe Henderson
1969 Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings Herbie Hancock
1970 Mwandishi Herbie Hancock
1971 Damisi Harold Land
1972 Secrets John Carter
1973 Blues for Walls Hampton Hawes
1973 Elements Joe Henderson
1973 Experience Eddie Harris
1974 Borboletta Santana
1974 Bridge into the New Age Azar Lawrence
1974 Faces in Reflection George Duke
1974 Feel George Duke
1974 Love, Love Julian Priester
1974 Prelusion Patrice Rushen
1975 Before the Dawn Patrice Rushen
1975 Electric Collection Ramsey Lewis
1975 I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry George Duke
1975 Seriously Deep David Axelrod
1975 Tale Spinnin' Weather Report
1975 Upon the Wings of Music Jean-Luc Ponty
1976 Amigos Santana
1976 Aura Will Prevail George Duke
1976 Chameleon LaBelle
1976 Encounter Flora Purim
1976 Liberated Fantasies George Duke
1976 Moonshadows Alphonso Johnson
1976 Nine: A Mystical Musical Allegory LaMont Johnson
1977 Festival Santana
1977 From Me to You George Duke
1977 Reach for It George Duke
1977 Storm Warning Johnny "Hammond" Smith
1977 Sunlight Herbie Hancock
1977 That's What She Said Flora Purim
1977 Tone Tantrum Gene Harris
1978 Collection Joe Sample
1978 Don't Ask My Neighbors Raul De Souza
1978 Don't Let Go George Duke
1978 Land of Passion Hubert Laws
1978 Love Satellite Ronnie Foster
1978 Money Talks The Bar-Kays
1978 Straight to the Bank Bill Summers
1978 Tropico Gato Barbieri
1978 X Factor Michael White
1979 Best of Herbie Hancock Herbie Hancock
1979 Carry On Flora Purim
1979 Delight Ronnie Foster
1979 Identify Yourself The O'Jays
1979 Minnie Minnie Riperton
1979 No One Home Lalo Schifrin
1979 Posh Patrice Rushen
1980 Inherit the Wind Wilton Felder
1980 Mr. Hands Herbie Hancock
1980 Pizzazz Patrice Rushen
1980 Routes Ramsey Lewis
1980 Year 2000 The O'Jays
1981 Can't We Fall in Love Again Phyllis Hyman
1981 Christmas Kenny Rogers
1981 Mr. C Norman Connors
1981 Slingshot Michael Henderson
1981 Tender Togetherness Stanley Turrentine
1982 Aurex Jazz Festival '81: Live Special Various Artists
1982 Donna Summer Donna Summer
1982 Hollywood Maynard Ferguson
1982 Let Me Know You Stanley Clarke
1982 Lionel Richie Lionel Richie
1982 Reunion The Temptations
1982 Take Me to Your Heaven Stevie Woods
1982 Thriller Michael Jackson
1983 Guardian of the Light George Duke
1983 Home Again Stanley Turrentine
1983 It's Your Night James Ingram
1983 Johnny Gill [1983] Johnny Gill
1983 Rockit (S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D Version) Herbie Hancock
1984 Ghetto Blaster The Crusaders
1984 L.A. Is My Lady Frank Sinatra
1984 No Question About It Kent Jordan
1984 Private Dancer Tina Turner
1984 Steppin' Out George Howard
1985 Heart of the Matter Kenny Rogers
1985 Oasis Joe Sample
1987 Bad Michael Jackson
1987 Start Over Cheryl Lynn
1988 Fire and Passion Gato Barbieri
1988 Old Friends: New Friends Ndugu Chancler
1988 Out of Control Dynasty
1988 Viva Santana! Santana
1989 3 Stanley Clarke w/ George Duke
1989 Echoes of Ellington, Vol. 2 Various Artists
1989 Healer John Lee Hooker
1989 Ivory Dreams Bobby Lyle
1989 True Spirit Ronnie Laws
1990 Journey Bobby Lyle
1990 Meeting Meeting
1990 More of the Night The Whispers
1990 New Earth Sonata Hubert Laws
1991 Dianne Reeves Dianne Reeves
1991 Dream On George Duke
1991 Greatest Hits: The Power of Great Music James Ingram
1991 Live at Birdland West Gerald Albright
1991 Rooms in My Fatha's House Vinx
1991 Storyville Robbie Robertson
1992 Back to the Groove Wayne Henderson
1992 Deep River The Five Blind Boys of Alabama
1992 Deep Soul Ronnie Laws
1992 Forever Friends Jon Gibson
1992 Now & Then Ernestine Anderson
1992 Secret Island Bobby Lyle
1993 Love Remembers George Benson
1993 No Strings Sheena Easton
1994 Anything But Ordinary Patrice Rushen
1994 Collected Recordings - Sixties to Nineties Tina Turner
1994 For the Love of Music Lionel Hampton
1994 Happy Again The Jazz Crusaders
1994 Love, Nancy Nancy Wilson
1994 Swan Princess Original Soundtrack
1994 Three Originals George Duke
1994 To a Higher Place Tramaine Hawkins
1995 Big Country David Axelrod
1995 Blues, Dues & Love News Ernestine Anderson
1995 Dance of the Rainbow Serpent Carlos Santana
1995 Giving Myself to You Gerald Albright
1995 HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I Michael Jackson
1995 Illusions George Duke
1995 In This Life Kirk Whalum
1995 Memories, Music, Magic of Motown: Tribute to Berry Gordon Various Artists
1995 Move to Groove: The Best of 1970s Jazz-Funk Various Artists
1995 Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown Berry Gordy
1995 Seeing for the Very First Time Barbara Weathers
1995 Songs from the Key of Life Najee
1995 Update The Meeting
1996 Best of George Duke George Duke
1996 Best of My Love: The Best of the Emotions The Emotions
1996 Crossroads, Vol. 2: Live in the Seventies Eric Clapton
1996 Cypher, Part 3 Frankie Cutlass
1996 Greatest Hits George Duke
1996 Haven't You Heard: The Best of Patrice Rushen Patrice Rushen
1996 Jazz for Thousand Oaks Buddy Collette
1996 Only Survivor: The MCA Years Bobby Womack
1996 This Is Jazz, Vol. 19 Wayne Shorter
1997 Bass-ic Collection Stanley Clarke
1997 Best of George Duke: The Elektra Years George Duke
1997 Hot Jazz Biscuits Various Artists
1997 Is Love Enough? George Duke
1997 Power of Touch Bobby Lyle
1997 Signature Patrice Rushen
1997 Street Called Desire and More RenÈ & Angela
1997 This Is Jazz, Vol. 27 Ramsey Lewis
1997 Upright Citizen Charles Fambrough
1998 After Hours George Duke
1998 Best of Friends John Lee Hooker
1998 Eat Me Baby, I'm a Jellybean Daevid Allen
1998 Family Jewels Gong
1998 Following Footsteps Jeff Jarvis
1998 Get as Much Love as You Can/Keep It Comin' The Jones Girls
1998 Groovin' High: The Drums Project on the 3 Various Artists
1998 Hipbop 'N' Funk Various Artists
1998 Love Songs Jennifer Love Hewitt
1998 Odyssey Michael Martin
1998 One on One Phyllis Hyman
1998 Prelusion/Before the Dawn Patrice Rushen
1998 Private Dancer: Centenary Tina Turner
1998 This Is Jazz, Vol. 37 George Duke
1998 Wanting Gabriela Anders
1999 From Q with Love Quincy Jones
1999 Greatest Hits Nancy Wilson
1999 Hip Bop'N Smooth Various Artists
1999 Legends of Acid Jazz: Tenor Titans Various Artists
1999 Pop Music: The Modern Era 1976-1999 Various Artists
1999 Year 2000/My Favorite Person The O'Jays
2000 Best of Herbie Hancock: The Hits Herbie Hancock
2000 Cool George Duke
2000 De-Ja-New Dr. Thom Mason
2000 Gato Barbieri's Finest Hour Gato Barbieri
2000 Jazz Straight Up Chancler/Clarke/Rushen
2000 Jazzy Christmas Various Artists
2000 Very Best of Jean-Luc Ponty Jean-Luc Ponty
2001 Bad Michael Jackson
2001 Funky 16 Corners Various Artists
2001 Greatest Hits: HIStory, Vol. 1 Michael Jackson
2001 Jazzy Christmas Various Artists
2001 Latitudes Gold Coast
2001 Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones Quincy Jones
2001 Very Best of Patti Austin: The Singles (1969-1986) Patti Austin
2002 Pasa Tiempo Joe Louis Walker
2002 Street Grooves Various Artists
2003 Chrome Collection The Spinners
2003 Gold Coast Rhian Benson
2003 Heart of the Matter Kenny Rogers
2003 In Between the Heartaches Phyllis Hyman
2003 Lionel Richie Lionel Richie
2003 Rebirth Children On The Corner
2003 Ronnie Laws Collection Ronnie Laws
2003 Wayne Henderson Collection Wayne Henderson & the Next Crusade
2004 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection Gato Barbieri
2004 Essential George Duke George Duke
2004 Footprints: The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
2004 Guitar & Bass Jaco Pastorius
2004 Jazz Standards Stanley Clarke/David Benoit
2004 Live: San Francisco Prophetz of Time and Space
2004 Peace For Love Curtis Amy
2004 Smooth Jazz Stanley Clarke/David Benoit
2004 Vibrationz Prophetz of Time and Space
2004 What a Wonderful World Leann Rimes
2005 Gold Donna Summer
2005 Just Family/Bad for Me Dee Dee Bridgewater
2005 Living Inside Your Love Earl Klugh
2005 Love Pages Cafe Soul All-Stars
2005 Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar Various Artists
2005 So Full of Love/Identify Yourself O'Jays
2006 Collectables Classics Eddie Harris
2006 Definitive Collection John Lee Hooker
2006 Hooker John Lee Hooker
2006 Mellow Jazz Christmas Various Artists
2006 Nothing Will Be as It Was...Tomorrow/Everyday Everynight Flora Purim
2006 Standards Rushen/Clarke/Chancler
2007 Best of Friends John Lee Hooker
2007 Gold John Lee Hooker
2007 Live at the 1988 Montreaux Jazz Festival Santana
2007 Missing You Peabo Bryson
2007 Music for Lovers Dianne Reeves
2007 Ultimate George Duke George Duke
2007 Ultimate Santana Santana
2008 Head On Bobby Hutcherson
2008 Miles from India Various Artists
2008 Thriller - 25th Anniversary Edition Michael Jackson


  • Nduguís drum kit typically features minimal cymbals ñ three cymbals and the hi-hats. "My cymbal setup is small simply because I get so many different sounds out of each cymbal, I donít need any more."

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Yamaha
Cymbals: Paiste
Hardware: Yamaha
Sticks: Vic Firth

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