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Merry Christmas and Happy 2018

Hi all,

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This is a short post to wish all of you compliments of the season and best wishes for the new year.

Thank you for your support on this blog and for engaging my services in Music. I look forward to another fruitful year just as 2017 has been.

I wish that you and your loved ones be blessed abundantly in 2018 and may all your goals be fulfilled.

Rock on,

Jason Cruz.

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2017 Updates

Hi all,

I am so glad to be back here with another post since my last one in February. Nope, I have not been under a rock or locked up in an ivory tower all this time. Instead, I have been having a great time accomplishing some stuff I always wanted to accomplish in my music work and in my part-time university studies, which I am about to complete the first year/first semester for.

2017 has been great to me so far, and I am so grateful for the new friendships I have forged through music, through my part-time studies, and through some interesting chance encounters. It has been certainly a more productive year than 2016. I have a good feeling that the new opportunities I have taken on this year will lead me down a richly rewarding path in my life – one that I think will actualize who I really am and what is truly my calling.

Some highlights from this year so far:

  1. Playing some really good gigs with some excellent musicians, most of whom come from overseas. These musicians include: Sean (SG – Gruv Therapy), Kevin (SG – freelance guitarist subbing at Brix. excellent and versatile), Manson (SG – bassist), Gavin (SG – The High Rollers), Paul (SG – The High Rollers), the two Patricks (SG – The High Rollers), Jasmine (SG – Sang with The High Rollers), James (SG – The Revival Band), Ricky (SG – The Revival Band), Martin (SG – The Revival Band), Peter (SG – The Revival Band), Christo (Australia – Stingray Martini), Harley (Canada – Stingray Martini), Daryn (New Zealand – Stingray Martini), Eirik (Norway – bass player I very recently connected with. Great Funk and Rock bassist), Phoenyx (USA – Brix resident band), Tre (USA – Brix resident band), Yendi (USA – Brix resident band), Inga (New Zealand – Brix resident band. Though I only did two gigs with her as she finished her contract after the 2nd gig), Kyle (USA – Brix resident band), Matt (USA – Brix resident band), Mark (Canada – Brix resident band, bandleader),  Jocelyn (SG – actually I started working with her last year. Very good singer and multi-instrumentalist. Check out her work with The Dimension 5). Sadly I have to say goodbye to Fran (Belgium) who has to relocate to Geneva as her husband was recently posted there by his company. I worked with her on a couple of Top40/Rock gigs last year and this year. She was a great singer – versatile, powerful, and soulful – and her professionalism is something I greatly respect. I wish her all the very best.
  2. Part-Time University Studies which started on July 28th 2017. This is one of the best decisions I ever made in my life so far. It was not easy to get there, but I am getting to do it now because of help from so many sources, it is mind-blowing. Thank you!! You know who you are!! I have great lecturers and my fellow schoolmates are generally cool people who come from different professional backgrounds and walks of life to study this course that I am taking.
  3. My last NS Reservist training cycle!! 10 years completed!
  4. Making some important connections for future work.
  5. Some of my drumset students achieving some personal breakthroughs in their drumming studies, namely Paul and Kyan. Paul is a working adult with a young family and Kyan is a primary school student who has been taking lessons for about 2 years now.
  6. Last but not least, The Bellamy Brothers concert that I opened for with The Revival Band (Ricky, James, Martin, Peter)

What I have been practising lately:

  1. Jazz drumming – improving my time and sound on the ride cymbal, developing other comping ideas, soloing, and brush work from time to time.
  2. Basic Metric Modulation
  3. Refining my traditional grip – I was recently able to play clean rim shots with the trad grip in my live work. YES!!! I am now comfortable playing Rolling Stones’ songs for example using the trad grip like Charlie Watts does, and trying to cop his feel – which is not easy.
  4. Stick Control, Accent Control, Odd Subdivisions including Quintuplets, Septuplets, Nine-lets, Ten-lets
  5. Improving my Funk Grooves – mostly listening to some Funk drummers that I am focusing on like Steve Ferrone, David Garibaldi, James Gadson, and Bernard Purdie. I have been listening to alot of Steely Dan also – the whole discography – and have developed a newfound love and appreciation for their early 1970’s work and that of their original drummer, Jim Hodder (R.I.P). He had a heck of a groove.

So there you go!

I will be back soon for some more updates. Till then, take care and keep groovin’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Updates

Very happy to be back posting on this blog!

I hope your 2016 has been fruitful so far and I wish you the reader more of the best that has yet to come.

2016 so far has been uniquely challenging for me. It seems to be a year where my path is changing course and I am embracing it fully.

Teaching and gigging so far have been ok except for some bad months from March up till May, and then things picked up all of a sudden in August. I realised that those said bad months were really a time of letting go some negative people and negative circumstances, and finding a new direction in which to take my life and my work. I feel more secure now.

2016 was also a year which I unexpectedly lost a dear friend and a relative to illnesses, and I am still coming to terms emotionally with these losses. I do my best not to let it affect my ability to function in my daily tasks. I had learn to develop the strength to carry on a life without them physically around. I am happy and secure however in the faith that they are in a better place.

One highlight though, so far, was PLATE’s album launch for Tear Down This Marketplace on May 23rd. You can go to the “Studio Recordings” tab to find posts documenting my journey through recording one of my favourite album projects of the last 3 years. The band was FINALLY able to launch it rather successfully with a well received and attended launch gig at Hood Bar, and pretty decent sales of the hard copy of the album.

Due to forthcoming circumstances, I will not be able to continue with these guys, hence I got another drummer to replace me. I really hope this band takes off as they can and should. It seems that they are starting to get a few more local gigs in the coming months and I am very happy for them.

The Black Monolith, my hard Rock project, is currently preparing to record our 2nd album which we target to release by May next year. There have been alot of delays due to conflicting schedules, but we are determined to see this project through to completion before said target date.

Happy to say that, in my personal opinion, the songs are an improvement over those on the first album. I still have 2 or 3 favourites off the first album. We are also in the process of locking down the ideal recording studio for tracking the drums, and I will be more involved in the production of this album than I was on the first one. More details will be posted soon.

I also have another highlight coming this month which is a TV gig this for a Channel 5 show. More details to follow soon.

The next few months till the year ends seem to be pretty busy and I look forward to finishing off 2016 on a happier note.

Till my next update, take care.

 

David Bowie: The definition of Cutting Edge in music

The music world has lost a game changing hero.

In these past two days since discovering the news of his all-too-sudden and shocking death, I reflected on what David Bowie’s music means to me – how it affected and influenced my musical path and life.

One thing is for sure, he was a great Rocker who wrote some really cool Rock songs that I would listen to right beside my other favourite Rock artists (most of whom are 70’s acts). The riffs and the grooves spoke to me right away. The lyrics were poetic.  It challenged my understanding of what Rock music could be. These are some of my favourite Rock songs by David:

Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Rebel Rebel, Suffragette City, and Jean Genie.

Just as I thought he was a cutting edge Rocker, he came up with a cutting edge Dance-Pop album called Let’s Dance. It’s one of my top favourite drumming albums and I used to play along to all the tracks on my drums.

David Bowie again challenged my notion of his music when I heard the gorgeous “This Is Not America”. He collaborated with the Pat Metheny Group, themselves a cutting edge Jazz-Fusion band, and the result was a piece of music with such a stunning ambience and truly moving/reflective lyrics.

David Bowie delivered one final album masterpiece called Blackstar. Even in the face of death, not one iota of his staggering creativity was lost. No stone was left unturned thematically, and even his death became such an artful exposition on the track, Lazarus. Some peope dismiss it as a gimmick to sell records. To that, I simply say, don’t listen to the record then.

It is no surprise to me by now that David Bowie could make truly powerful and moving art out of any theme, object, storyline in his music. He knew who he was and where he stood artistically. He never compromised on his artistic vision but his genius lay in his ability to make that vision assessable and commercially viable. How does one do that? Unfortunately we won’t have David around to show us the way, but we still have his music – his greatest message.

Rest in peace, Major Tom.

 

 

2015 Wrapup

“Time Waits For No One”, as the old blues song goes and time had certainly raced past. It seemed like only a couple of months ago that we ushered in 2014 and I was looking forward to the cool gigging, recording, and teaching projects.

As December 2014 got underway, I had a very strong feeling that 2015 would turn out to be a year where I would achieve alot more in my chosen career. I had the hunch that important new business connections would be made and it was time to up my game in terms of my drumming and the way I conducted myself professionally. Looking back, I had indeed both rose to the occassion and been thrown some curveballs which were invaluable lessons….and of which I’m grateful to have come out sane and even happier than before.

One notable challenge presented to me early this year was working on the Ninth Order debut album project with a seasoned producer and a highly respected sound engineer. When you’re asked to do more than three takes per song, either for having more creative/musical options or simply to play a more perfect take, the stamina required both physically and mentally was nothing short of that required on a 3 hour gig of high energy music.

From that album project, I came away with a much better understanding of recording for an all out commercial pop album at the international standard. I say that because the producer and engineer I worked with were the first two from Singapore to receive a grammy-nomination for their past work with a world music artiste, Arun Sheroy, so they definitely have what it takes to produce something or help a band produce something worthy to be heard on the international stage.

Playing 6 nights in a nightclub which I did for about 6 months was another great challenge that tested my willpower, discipline, and consistency as a live performer. It’s pretty much akin to being on tour, playing the same songs night after night and having to deliver your best. How I managed to remain passionate about music is most likely a testament to the fact that this is truly my calling. The fun part was working with different singers, with different genres, and having to transcribe as exact as possible the original drum parts of the songs in a short amount of time.

2015 was not without some difficult times too. Home Ground Studio where I worked from Nov 2012 to June 2015 had decided to pull out of it’s space at Lew Building. The intervening months between moving out of Lew Building and suffering a setback where the new studio at Goldhill Centre I was supposed to move to did not happen because the original tenant decided to continue with the space, left me stranded.

Update: I’m now at King George’s Avenue with some great people and it’s a joy to teach there. Still accepting new students!!

Without a regular gig, surviving through those months was hard to imagine. I fought on. It was obviously a blessing that I could still function during this period, but it was also solid proof that in order to survive in the music industry, you’d have to wear many hats and draw your income from different areas of the industry: teaching and performing being the basic areas of the industry a musician can comfortably eke out a decent living, but also even doing live sound for events.

With my recording studio experience, having tinkered with audio mixers, and being pretty good at rigging up a live audio system, I was able to venture into another area of the business thanks to the opportunity given by an events company who urgently needed help. Through this experience, and a back-breaking one I must say, I learned so much more about not just the equipment,  but also the acoustics of different venues, and how to achieve good sound with the limitations of the equipment I’m given. I’m also learning how to handle the demands of both the hiring clients and the musicians, and to do my best in giving them what they need to put on a good performance where they feel comfortable with the audio The real treat is to hear good musicians perform from a sound engineer’s perspective. This allows me to develop a much more balanced approach on the drumset which is a work in lifelong progress. I’m acquiring an improved understanding of accompanying different musicians through different musical styles via learning the nuances that each performer brings to his/her craft on stage as I witness them.

So there you have it, my 2015 in music, which is also my 7th year in the scene. Thank you 2015 for these wonderful opportunities of growth. I’m ready for what 2016 brings and I can’t wait. Life only gets better when you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and discover your true potential.

In closing, I wish you, dear reader, compliments of the season and a fantastic new year. Thank you all for your generous support: my family, my close friends, my dear students, and my peers in the music industry whom I enjoy working with.

 

 

TED Talk: Learning a Musical Instrument and Brain Development

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-playing-an-instrument-benefits-your-brain-anita-collins

Old stuff but timeless information on how learning to play a musical instrument positively affects your brain.

I’ve certainly learnt so much more about myself playing the drums and that has helped me build a rather successful career overall. With the ups and downs that come along with the music business, I developed tenacity, focus, sharper intellect, better problem-solving skills, and above all versatility through my intensive study of various musical genres and their drumming styles.

Learn a musical instrument today! Take the time to find out which of these instruments resonates with you. You don’t have to aspire to be a pro, although that would be awesome.

If drums is your thing and you’ve never ever sat behind a set of drums, time to take a trial lesson. Call me at 98291901 or email me at treshombres6@gmail.com for more information.