Category Archives: Drums

Will Kennedy

Artist Profile:

Will Kennedy

Will_KennedyWill Kennedy was a member of the internationally acclaimed group Yellowjackets for over nine years, recording ten records garnering an amazing fourteen Grammy nominations and accolades that would fill as many pages. In addition to countless world tours, Will's performances with the Yellowjackets included numerous television and radio broadcasts that spanned the globe.

Will won Modern Drummer magazine's reader's poll for best drummer (electric jazz category) three years in a row.

Will has a drumming video, which he co-produced with drum innovator Bob Gatzen. It was released by Warner Bros. as part of the "Inspiring Drummer" series.

Will can be seen performing on ABC's critically acclaimed "Wayne Brady Show." The band is led by Peter Michael Escovedo. (Will and Peter also worked together in the "Demographically Correct Orchestra" on UPN's critically acclaimed "Martin Short Show.")

Music came to Will early in life; he was playing his first drumset at the age of four. His older brother Hershall was involved in San Francisco, CA area funk bands (playing keyboards), and Will would hang out and watch the band and also jam with his brother in the garage. His father had an extensive record collection and music was a big part of life for the Kennedy family.

One afternoon, his brother came home with a record by the great Tony Williams. It was one of Tony's solo albums titled Believe it new lifetime. "I listened to it over and over... I just couldn't imagine the drums being played like that, and when I went to see him play live, my life was changed".

Will played percussion and traps throughout his school years, and by age ten he had his first private instructor: Bill Nawrocki would teach during the day and swing with all sorts of bands at night. He taught Will the basics of drumming and was a great motivator.

Will studied music in college under a professor named Bill Bell, who not only was an incredible instructor in classical and jazz studies, but also became like a second father to Will and ultimately invited Will to perform with him all around the Bay area.

Will was fast becoming a fixture in the Bay area scene. He started playing with a group called Rythmus 21, which was an all-star band featuring some of the top musicians in the community. Through this association Will was introduced to Andy Narrel, who wasted no time snatching Will up. Will did multiple records and tours with Andy, and around this time started getting heavily involved with writing music and became a partner in his first successful publishing company. Also during this time, saxophonist Marc Russo — a member of the Yellowjackets, and fellow Bay area resident — asked Will if he would be interested in joining the group (drummer Ricky Lawson had just left). "It was a tough decision to leave everything I had going on at the time, but after meeting and jamming with the Yellowjackets, I knew this was something I just had to do".

Will is actively involved in education. He has conducted clinics and Master series all over the world, and he participates in many educational functions sponsored by his equipment endorsees, including Pearl, Zildjian, Promark, Evans, Shure and Drumframe (see Equipment). He also has a series of educational recordings under the heading "Will's Practice Room."

Will Kennedy, literally steaming after an energetic performance at a drum clinic in Tennessee (see Modern Drummer, August 2001 issue).

Walter Rodriguez

Artist Profile:

Walter Rodriguez

walter_rodriguez_2Walter is an openly creative multidirectional drummer/percussionist. His richly eclectic and unique gift encompasses a plurality of styles–from rock to latin to world music–in a way that is extremely rare in a realm dominated usually by “doing-one-thing” specialists. Combining powerful technique, uncanny sense of time, deep understanding of the essence of different cultural musical manifestations with a profound sense of stylistic appropriateness, Walter embodies -“The drummer/percussionist of the new century”- quoting his mentor Alex Acuña.

There are drummers, and there are percussionists. Very, very few of his generation have an equally flawless command at the Drum set, Latin percussion (from congas, to bongos/timbales), other World Music percussion (African, Brazilian, Afro-Uruguayan, and Indian… among other), and Electronic percussion (both as a programmer/performer). All of these are brought together and nurtured by a profound sense of purpose and meaning, defined by him as his “calling”. Walter wants to dedicate his playing to JESUS CHRIST, “The One Whom every perfect gift comes from”.walter_rodriguez_1

Playing drums from a very early age, Walter Rodriguez, born in San Juan. P.R., played his first TV show at the age of seven. His father, top studio call on the island for over 20 years, was his first teacher and still his greatest inspiration. While playing side by side with his dad, he was surrounded by today’s musical greats Alex Acuna and Giovanni Hidalgo; simultaneously enhancing his musical knowledge by studying piano and working as a sound engineer. At the age of 22, Walter moved to Los Angeles to study at Musicians Institute of Technology, specifically the PIT (Percussion Institute of Technology) division.

While getting involved in the local music scene, Walter and Alex Acuna connected, this time Alex taking Walter under his wing and becoming his spiritual and musical mentor. Where others would concentrate on fewer options/activities as time passes-by, Walter is heading to broader, more musically challenging directions. He is not only dealing with harmonic and other relevant music-theory elements, but also opening an even bigger sonic “palette” by studying -yet- other World-Music percussion traditions, including the Australian didgeridoo [the oldest woodwind instrument ever] and the Indian tabla, to mention a few. Walter’s excellent musicianship is only a part of his appeal as player and performer. His innate charisma, adding warmth and flare to any stage, and his smile frequently pointed out, as “lighting up the whole world”, are only surpassed by his sense of meaning and purpose. He defines the essence of his musical endeavor as two-fold: To shine for GOD Almighty in JESUS’ Name, and to affect people in a positive way in a world desperately needing so.

Walfredo Reyes

Artist Profile:

Walfredo Reyes

walfredo_reyes_1Few drummers playing today can successfully combine the rich history of Latin, Afro-Cuban and World Percussion with the drum set. For Walfredo Reyes Jr., fusing the two disciplines has been his driving passion. In fact, by blazing this path, Reyes has challenged the technical levels of our instrument.

Born in Cuba, raised in Puerto Rico and culminating his musical style in the U.S., Wally (Walfredo Jr.) learned the traditions from the master, his father Walfredo Sr. He married those principles with his love of the drum set, coming up with his own truly global rhythmic style. Simply put, Wally is able to sound like a drummer and a percussionist at the same time. Add blistering chops and a penchant for playing unusual patterns to the mix, and you have only a small idea of what this man can do.

Not surprisingly, this "one man percussion show" has gathered an impressive list of gigs over the years, including touring and / or recording with: Carlos Santana, Traffic, Steve Winwood, Jackson Browne, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, David Lindley, Ricki Lee Jones, Richard Marx, Sergio Mendes, Smokey Robinson, Robbie Robertson, Joe Sample, Boz Scaggs, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Johnny Hallyday.

Because of his versatility, Walfredo is one of the most in demand musicians in theWalfredo_Reyes_2 world today. He currently lives in the Los Angeles area where he continues to expand his talents to recording, producing, composing, education, live performance and touring.

Tootie Heath

Artist Profile:

Tootie Heath

tootie_heath_1The younger brother of Percy and Jimmy Heath, Albert "Tootie" Heath has long been a top hard bop-based drummer with an open mind toward more commercial styles of jazz. After moving to New York (1957), he debuted on record with John Coltrane.

Heath was with J.J. Johnson's group (1958-1960) and the Jazztet (1960-1961), worked with the trios of Cedar Walton and Bobby Timmons in 1961, and recorded many records as a sideman for Riverside during that era. He lived intootie_heath_2 Europe in 1965-1968 (working frequently with Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, and backing touring Americans), and, after returning to the U.S., he played regularly with Herbie Hancock's sextet (1968-1969) and Yusef Lateef (1970-1974).

After an additional year in Europe, he joined the Heath Brothers band (1975-1978) and then settled in Los Angeles, where Tootie Heath continued freelancing, recording with the Riverside Reunion Band.
tootie_heath_3

Tom Fillman

Artist Profile:

Tom Fillman

tom_fillman_1Born in Silsbee, Texas, Tom Fillman started playing music at the age of ten while living with his family in Germany.

As the son of a professional military man, he and his family traveled between Europe and the U.S. Tom began playing professionally during high school and, after graduation, he attended North Texas State University to study music before moving to Los Angeles in the early 80’s.

Since then he has toured, performed live or recorded with many artist the likes of which include Kris Kristoffereson, Juice Newton, Mick Taylor, Al Kooper, Delbert McClinton, Spencer Davis, Booker T. Jones and Don Was. Tom is has also worked with Austin guitarist/songwriter Stephen Bruton. (Credits include Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristoffereson), and has shared the stage with Janiva Magness (2006-07 female vocalist of the year/Blues Music Awards) and Grammy and Nammy (Native American Music Awards) winner Star Nayea.

Todd Wolf

Artist Profile:

Todd Wolf

todd_wolf_1Todd Started Playing drums at the of age of 3 and has not stopped playing since. His professional career began when he was 18, playing jazz clubs in downtown Chicago where he was born and raised. While studying drums and percussion at DePaul University he continued working in the Chicago club scene developing his skills and reputation as a very musical and versatile drummer.

While in his early 20’s, Todd had already toured with bands spanning the entire European continent as well as Japan and Brazil. While home in between tours ,Todd began getting called for studio work and earned a reputation as an in-demand studio drummer, which lead to his collaboration on 100’s of jingles, movie sound tracks and record dates. todd_wolf_2

In 2001, Todd moved to Los Angeles where he has had the pleasure of playing with some of the great Jazz musicians he grew up admiring. Once again, Todd established himself as an in-demand studio drummer in the Los Angeles area. Todd is now touring with the Platinum selling artist Beth Hart.

Todd has had the pleasure of studying with: Joel Spencer, Paul Wertico, Peter Erskine and Joe La Barbera

Tim Pleasant

Artist Profile:

Tim Pleasant

tim_pleasantTim currently resides in the Los Angeles area.  His background includes a degree in music from the University of Iowa and has studied with Harold Jones, an alumnus of the Count Basie Band.

In the early and mid 70’s, Tim was a member of the fusion group Solstice.  His tenure with this innovative collection of musicians provided a great foundation in various musical styles from jazz fusion and World music to be-bop.

In late 1978, Tim arrived in New York City from Minneapolis to further his real world music education.  During his twenty-one year stay, he has had the opportunity to perform with Warne Marsh, Sal Mosca, Jaki Byard, Johnny Ray, Charles McPherson, Frank Lowe and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Tim moved to the Los Angeles area in 2000 and has become a mainstay of the vibrant Los Angeles Jazz scene. He has performed with many of the L.A. area’s most noted jazz musicians, some of which include Alan Pasqua, Anthony Wilson, John Pisano, Charlie Haden and Larry Goldings.

Ted Williams

Artist Profile:

Ted Williams

ted_williams_2Drummer/bassist Ted Williams. Augustin is a veteran musician, whose influences include Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Pat Metheny. Ted Williams manages, amazingly, to excel at playing the bass and drums at the same time. The two form something of a jazz duo/trio.

Steve Schaeffer

Artist Profile:

Steve Schaeffer

steve_schaeffer_1Steve Schaeffer is a Hollywood studio musician who has played on more than 1,000 feature films and original soundtracks.

Steve Schaeffer noted Hollywood recording musician started his career in New York City. At the age of 14, Steve was part of Marshall Brown's Newport Youth Band, a band made up the best young Jazz players in the New York, and Tri-state areas. At 17 Steve joined the Al Cohn/Zoot Sims Quintet at the famed Half Note in NYC. At 19 Steve joined Doc Severinsons Quintet. At 20 Steve joined Sarah Vaughn and stayed for 2 1/2 years, this band also had Chick Corea featured as Sarah's pianist. Steve also worked with jazz greats Joe Henderson, Eddie Daniels, Monty Alexander, Bob Sheppard, Pete Christlieb, and Mike Maineri to name a few artists.steve_schaeffer_2

Other positions followed with Herb Alpert and the TJB, Roger McGuinn and the Byrds, and Dreams with Randy and Michael Brecker. After 12 years on the road Steve took the drum chair with "A Chorus Line" at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles and stayed for 2 years. It was there he was discovered and became one of Hollywood's most prominent recording musicians. He has played on 1000 feature films and Sound Tracks including:

Jerry Goldsmith, ("LA Confidential"), ("Airforce One"), ("The Edge"), ("Along came a Spider"), ("Star Trek" "Nemesis") ("Looney Tunes: Back in Action").

John Williams, ("Indiana Jones"), ("Close Encounters"), ("Amistad"), ("Catch Me If You Can"), ("War of the Worlds").

Howard Shore, ("Big"), ("Mrs. Doubtfire"), ("Seven"), ("The Truth about Cats and Dogs"), ("The Panic Room"), ("The Score").

Alan Silvestri ("Bodyguard"), ("Forest Gump"), ("Mouse Hunt"), ("What Lies Beneath"), ("What Women Want") and ("Castaway"), ("the Mexican") ("Polar Express").

David Newman, ("Anastasia"), and ("Bowfinger"), ("Galaxy Quest"), ("Ice Age"), ("How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days"), ("Serenity").

James Newton Howard, ("The Fugitive"), ("Outbreak"), ("Space Jam"), ("King Kong")

Babyface ("Waiting to Exhale").

Michael Giacchino, ("The Incredibles").

Randy Newman ("Meet the Fockers"), ("Pleasantville"), ("Monsters Inc"), both ("Toy Stories"), ("Cars") and on many other films with Bill Conti, Dave Grusin, Patrick Williams, and Henry Mancini.

Steve has also been featured on hundreds of television Shows, Dozens of Gold and Platinum records ranging from Barbra Steisand's Broadway albums both 1 & 2 and Toots Thielmans "Brazil 2", to GRP recordings with Diane Shurr and Stan Getz ("Timeless") and Harry Connick Jr., Steve has also played more than 12 Grammy Award Shows and Academy Awards Shows.

Steve Houghton

Artist Profile:

Steve Houghton

steve_houghton_1Internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author, and educator, Steve Houghton initially received acclaim at age twenty as the drummer with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd. Since then he has shared stage and studio with luminaries Clay Jenkins, Toots Thielemans, Christian McBride, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Freddie Hubbard, Lyle Mays, Billy Childs, Pat LaBarbara, Arturo Sandoval, Joe Henderson, Karrin Allyson and Maureen McGovern, with whom, he tours today.

As band leader Houghton’s discography includes: The Manne We Love: Gershwin Revisited (TNC), a recent release of John Williams’ charts for big band and quintet, initially recorded by Shelly Manne on Capitol in 1965, the Steve Houghton Quintet Live @ the Senator (Jazz Compass), Windsong (SHPERC Records), Remembrances (Warner Bros.), and Steve Houghton Signature (Mesa-Bluemoon). In total Houghton attributes more than one hundred recordings to his credit as a participating artist. As a classical percussionist, Houghton has performed with the Boston, and Philadelphia Pops orchestras, as well as the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He frequently appears as a soloist with numerous orchestras and wind ensembles throughout the world.

As author, Houghton’s publications boast more than twenty composite educational tools including Essential Styles- books 1 & 2 (Alfred ), The Ultimate Drumset Chart Reading Anthology (Alfred), Play and Teach Percussion (GIA), and The Drumset Soloist (Warner Bros.). In addition, Houghton was recently featured in an article published in the Modern Drummer (2003) entitled “The Thundering Drummers of Woody Herman.”

Houghton is currently associate professor of percussion at Indiana University-Bloomington, and is on faculty at the Henry Mancini Institute. In addition to his academic duties, he presents yearly clinics and masterclasses to students around the world. Chair of The Resource Team of the International Association of Jazz Education, and board member of the Percussive Arts Society, Houghton endorses Pearl drums, Adams percussion, Zildjian cymbals, sticks, and mallets, and Remo World Percussion products and drumheads