review of Wakefield Jazz gig)
What's keeping you busy right now?
I think rather than busy, I would like to think of it as staying
involved and motivated! The nature of our business means that
inevitably, there are times when it can feel like a succession of all or
nothing then all too much again very frequently. Some of the key
elements I think to staying in the loop are to be reliable, well
prepared and resourceful.
You're set to teach at the Music Place jazz course over summer and I
know that you're involved in quite a lot of teaching. What do you think
is important in teaching jazz? Do you have a method you follow or do you
change with each student or group?
When teaching Jazz (in respect of drumming), I always try to work
towards achieving a balance between technique and the all important feel
element. Many students approach playing jazz from only one
viewpoint...just technique with little attention to sound, tone and
communication with their instrument or ensemble. I try to encourage them
to see the whole picture which means that they become familiar with the
song form, dynamics, sound, melody, chord structure, lyrics if
appropriate. Technique is achievable with work and dedication but the
ability to communicate a convincing and genuine feel is an elusive but
much prized quality in a jazz musician. I would say its paramount that
students listen and understand how all the instruments interact and
connect with each other rhythmically and melodically.
One of the
greatest compliments a Jazz drummer can hope to receive is that they
make everyone else sound good and" swing like the clappers"!(to put it politely!)
How did you first get into playing drums, and jazz?
Both my parents were musical. My father Fred being a jazz musician,
composer, arranger and educator; (many may remember him from the old
Leeds College of Music as he taught there during the 70s and early
1980s). I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually pursue a jazz
path. I'm not too certain why the drums, but I had a fascination with the
sound and feel they produced and as a youngster would would set chairs,
stools and cushions around me and play along to the radio or record
player. (who hasn't!!) I played in school and had some basic lessons
but didn't actually see a drumkit till I was 15 or so. You have to
appreciate that drumming wasn't considered quite the cool or expected
thing for a female to pursue in those days as it generally is now.
Contrary to this, I spent the next few years pursuing and learning my
craft in clubs backing diverse acts and playing strict time for
dancing.. An education I'll never forget!!. I went on to attend LCoM in
the 80s and was fortunate to connect and collaborate with many talented
musicians in the following years.
I guess my Jazz playing really
started to develop when around 1990 I was asked by Steve Crocker to be
part of the backing band for visiting jazz stars to the Yorkshire area.
Pete King, Art farmer, Harry "sweets" Eddison..oh, many guys visited, an
opportunity I have never forgotten. I was fortunate to perform on two
nationwide tours with Pete king and also the ECM virtuoso bass player,
Eberhard Weber around this time. I am always honoured to be asked on
these occasions and recently I have been given the opportunity to be
able to accompany such renowned bass players as Dave Green, Steve Berry,
Steve Watts and Alec Dankworth.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Recently, I have been sorting my cd collection. Yes, I do own cds!
Brecker brothers, John Taylor, Peter Erskine, The Yellowjackets, Lyle Mays, Tony Williams and Terri lynne Carrington have all had an airing. I loved
the recent "Ground up" album by Snarky puppy, which has elements of all
these groups along with George Duke too.
I am also really looking
forward to seeing "the Printmakers" at Seven Jazz this week which
feature some of my favourite musicians Mike Walker and Nikki Isles
alongside Norma Winstone.
I have enjoyed the recent mini tour with
MikeW , Iain D , Les C and Gary Culshaw. After knowing these guys for
twenty years, it's a pleasure to connect again, which of course the
summer school allows us to do. I just wish it could happen more often.
What's next for you?
In the pipeline:..I am in the process of getting some ideas together to
write for my own project based around my experiences and influences as a
Well, I should take advantage of the fact its finally cool to be a female drummer! Watch this space.