Sunday afternoon’s concert at Club Fox in Redwood City is more than just a summit meeting of two of the Bay Area’s best jazz drummers.
To be sure, Wally Schnalle and Joe DeRose are major talents. The former has cut an impressive swath through Bay Area jazz since deciding in 1984 to abandon a Silicon Valley cubicle and return to his first love. Since then, he’s gigged extensively, recorded a number of albums and written a column for Drum! magazine.
Schnalle also over the years has taken on a number of students, DeRose among them. Fronting his own band, Amici, these days, the latter waxes effusively about the influence Schnalle has had on his playing and life, calling him “an inspiration … as a drummer, educator, columnist, bandleader, composer … most importantly, he is a great friend.”
It is teacher and student, then, who share the bill Sunday. Schnalle will be showcasing “Idiot Fish” which, as he explains on his website, represents “the cutting edge intersection of electronica and improvised music.”
(It) combines a myriad of influences from my love of jazz and fusion to trends and sounds that emanate from the electronic dance music world. Genres like Jungle, Glitch, Dub-Step and IDM all have a hand in influencing these newest compositions, which fuel this new ensemble. My usual acoustic drum set is augmented by a host of electronic devices that allow me to embellish my usual percussive voice with electronic elements. Yet you still hear the sound of the acoustic drums, a vital element. But even more ground-breaking is the fact that I also play much of the harmonic content of these compositions from the drum set. Therefore, I only need only sax and bass on stage with me to complete the sound. Joining will be Lee Pardini (saxophone) and Joe Costantini (bass).
DeRose’s presentation will be more straightforward but none the less exciting, featuring as it does his band of Hristo Vitchev (guitar), Dann Zinin (saxophone), Murray Low (keyboards) and Dan Robbins (bass). It’s the same lineup heard on DeRose’s recent recording, “Sounds for the Soul.”
On a larger note, Sunday’s concert presents the rare opportunity to catch two drummer-led ensembles in action. I asked DeRose in an interview about his own inspirations as a leader.
Question: When you consider jazz’s history, the number of drummers who have led their own groups is comparatively small, even if we are talking such giants like Art Blakey. As a leader, do you draw on drummers for example and inspiration?
DeRose: Well, you mention drummers who lead their own groups and the first person who comes to mind for me is Louie Bellson. He was a dear friend of mine and it was truly an honor to be his friend. He was a perfect example to me (not only) as a bandleader and a drummer but also as a person. He was a kind person to everyone he met and really led by example to me on how to conduct my self as a person. He used to encourage me write music and so I have dedicated a track on this CD to him entitled “Drum Angel.”
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