Ben Scholz
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Kid - “I wanna join band.”

Parent - “That’s wonderful!  What instrument do you want to play?”

Kid - “The drums!”

Parent - (Radio silence)

Parents, if this conversation sounds familiar you may be suffering from a case of “percussive misinformativ-itis”.  However, you should have no reason to fear.  Far from a chronic headache of blast-beats and drum rolls, band percussion can be a literal symphony of sounds and textures.  A burgeoning percussion student will soon discover that the decision to “play the drums” in school means learning all the note-reading skills of his/her peers as well as developing proficiency on a half-dozen unique instruments.  Oftentimes however, this instrument choice can quickly become overwhelming as parents feel the pressure to decide what gear to buy.  


Over the past ten years, electronic music and jazz have developed a curious relationship.  As programmers and DJs sought to remove the human element from their beats and loops, acoustic musicians sought to apply the tight, complex patterns of house and trance music to their traditional instruments.  Drummer Mark Guiliana is at the forefront of this new vanguard of progressive acoustic artists.  In this article we’ll discuss his work with acclaimed pianist Brad Mehldau, his studies with renowned instructor John Riley, and his new record label “Beat Music Productions”.

As a percussion educator, I often hear a particular question - "What kind of sticks should I buy?"  With nearly a dozen brands and literally hundreds of models, the humble drumstick has evolved to fit every possible hand size and musical style imaginable.  We've narrowed the search down to our top five favorite brands and included a how-to that will help you choose the right pair.



Foremost an innovator, John Riley has always been a “drummer’s drummer” in the world of straight ahead jazz.  With nearly a hundred recordings, a dozen videos, and five books under his belt, Riley is a veritable font of knowledge in the be-bop realm.  In this article, we take a look back at some of his musical endeavors including recording with Miles Davis, working with Quincy Jones, and playing drums with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.  We’ll also examine the changing landscape of music and discuss how younger drummers can find inspiration.

Author’s note: This interview was conducted while I was driving Oz Noy and Oteil Burbridge to the Chicago Music Exchange after their shows at Martyr’s the weekend of 5/22/14.  I didn’t know that Oteil would be joining us until that morning.

Rarely does the opportunity to interview a touring musician arrive with much advance notice.  Schedules tend to be dictated by airline departure times, hotel check-out policies and sound checks.  If I am lucky, I’ll know of an upcoming show in town a few weeks in advance and can plan accordingly.  If the artist has a few minutes to chat post-gig, I usually attempt to prep them with a few questions and follow up via phone later.  Sometimes however, an opportunity literally sits down in the back seat of your car and starts a conversation.


Like most generation x-ers, I grew up with a lionized version of the 70’s and the music that grew out of the Vietnam war era.  The myth that Hendrix and The Dead were household names in their respective heydays prevailed as we dug up our parents’ old vinyl and declared that we had been born in the wrong decade.  I received a copy of The Allman BrothersAt Fillmore East when I was 17 and was surprised to learn that both Gregg Allman and Duane Allman had cut their teeth as session players before their big break.  In the 00’s, the band included bassist Oteil Burbridge, and guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.  This association led to Trucks’ forming the Tedeschi Trucks Band with his wife Susan Tedeschi, and brothers Oteil and Kofi Burbridge.  This past May, I was fortunate to catch up with Oteil in between these projects the day after he performed with Oz Noy and Keith Carlock at Martyr’s in Chicago.  

A consummate artist in several styles of American Music, Oteil Burbridge is most famous for his fifteen year contribution to The Allman Brothers Band.  A native of the D.C. area, Oteil and his brother Kofi relocated to Atlanta and have maintained a rigorous touring schedule for the past 10 years.  This decision to move to the deep south had a significant impact on Oteil’s musical perspective.

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