Jymie Merritt has worked in jazz, R&B, and blues. In the early 1950s he toured with rock and roll pioneers Bullmoose Jackson and Chris Powell moving on to work with legendary bluesman BB King from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 Jymie moved to Manhattan, New York, to work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The Messenger ensemble Merritt joined featured his friend Benny Golson as well as Bobby Timmons and Lee Morgan. Merritt’s touring and recording with Blakey extended until 1962, when an unknown ailment forced him to stop touring.
By 1964 Merritt was back, working with the trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, and is featured prominently in Baker’s unfinished autobiography published under the title As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir.
From 1965 to 1968 Merritt worked with the drummer, composer and activist Max Roach, not only in the rhythm section but as a composer, recording “Nommo” on Roach’s critically acclaimed 1966 Atlantic album The Drum Also Waltzes. “Nommo” would earn Merritt a nomination for Best Jazz Composer in Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Poll.