Norman Connors, like Roy Ayers, George Benson and Patrice Rushen, is best known for his major R&B hits but started out as a jazz musician. The drummer/composer was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he lived in the same neighborhood as Bill Cosby and became interested in jazz when he was only a child. As a kid in elementary school, Connors was exposed to jazz extensively thanks to such schoolmates as drummer Lex Humphries and the younger brother of bassist and Jazz-Messenger-to-be Spanky De Brest.

Connors was in junior high when he began sneaking into jazz clubs and sat in for Elvin Jones on a John Coltrane gig. Connors went on to study music at Philly's Temple University and Juilliard School of Music in New York. Gigs with Jackie McLean, Jack McDuff and Sam Rivers further shaped his jazz roots, and presented him with the opportunity to record as a sideman with Archie Shepp for Shepp’s 1967 Impulse! session Magic of JuJu.