Friday 31 May 2013

The Friday Interview: Caroline Boaden

Drummer Caroline Boaden is a graduate of LCoM and since leaving has toured internationally countless groups and become a strong voice in the Northern jazz scene. She has recently completed a tour with the Mike Walker/Iain Dixon quintet (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 musician.
Well, I should take advantage of the fact its finally cool to be a female drummer! Watch this space.

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