Friday, June 18, 2010

today : I bang the drum

They say that good drummers are as hard, if not harder, to find than good singers. But I found one last night. The details are fairly irrelevant but here they are anyway. My friend invited me to her jazz singing class end-of-term jamboree. Everyone in the class gets to sing. She is by far the best singer in the class (having done professional work such as singing with Daniela Mercury at the Rio Carnival, for example) and lots of the other students are not as blessed in the vocal chord department. This is no criticism of them. Singing ability, like sprinting or winning the Tour De France is a lot to do with the genetic lottery. Everyone can sing to an extent with practice, but almost nobody is a born singer. Just look at all these huge TV competitions. Queues of thousands and thousands hopefuls line up and even then, when they are whittled down to a few finalists, there are usually only one or two who can really sing in a way that makes them stand out as 'singers'.

The students' main attribute is infectious enthusiasm and love of singing. One or two I spoke to joined the class as a confidence booster. Others were singer songwriters or rock singers who wanted to broaden their vocal technique. Others just loved jazz and wanted to have a go.

The idea of the jamboree was that the class tutor got in a small group of top notch musicians whom I assumed were connected with the college - a jazz combo of piano bass drums and tenor sax. Each singer got to do their two songs with a top notch group.

They were all clearly superb musicians. But the toppest of the notch was the drummer. I don't even recall his name (actually I found it out by some judicious googling - it was Chris Bussey, whom I read is one of the most highly rated and in-demand drummers around) but you would go far to find a player as outstanding. It was a privilege to watch and listen to him, especially in a context such as an amateur showcase. I kept saying to my friend "that drummer - he's probably the best I've ever seen." Perhaps it was influenced by the small room and the fact that we could watch as well as listen to him. But I have seen lots and lots of bands and many of them had fine drummers. I think this guy outshone them all.

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