THERE was a buzz of excitement in the Lerwick Town Hall on Sunday evening as Shetland’s drummers, young and not so young, greeted Jo Jo Mayer.
The Swiss-born New Yorker was playing his first clinic in Scotland, and the first of a busy seven dates taking in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Doncaster, Birmingham and London.
Mayer opened with a couple of play-along tracks, featuring his band Nerve. The style of these was very much in the drum and bass genre, with elements of funk thrown in. The second track Syncopath was extremely dynamic, with influences of jazz evident. He went on to talk at length about various jazz musicians, stating this was his first love of music, and where it had all begun.
After answering a question on foot technique he was asked: “Who is your favourite drummer, and what has influenced you musically?”
What followed was a comprehensive if not encyclopaedic breakdown of all the drummers who have influenced him, who in turn inspired them, and where that initial groundbreaking invention evolved from. The 30-minute answer was so concise and passionate that the audience laughed when he finally said “and to answer your question”; such was the detail of the answer.
He cited Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich and Ringo Starr as big influences, but stressed that all styles of music have directed him at different stages of his career.
Two more tracks followed and again the standard of playing was incredible. Mayer was quick to point out that drumming has to have feel rather than speed, but it was difficult to remember seeing a drummer playing at such a pace, but with so much musicality. His demonstration of looping grooves/cutting and pasting music was also highly entertaining, along with the facial expressions that accompanied the music.
The clinic concluded with Mike Dolbear thanking the Shetland public for supporting another successful clinic, paying special praise to any parents who had attended with their children. He was quick to point out the uniqueness that Shetland holds in the drum world, with all the other dates being city environments. He thanked the Drumjamm team of Murray, Jack, Finlay and Chris for making the event possible, as well as YMI for the funding assistance.