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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Best Practice Method For Me, A Hobbying Or Semi-Professional Drummer?

Hi all, here’s a throwback post I did on various practice methods. This is especially useful for busy working adults and students. Feel free to email me at treshombres6@gmail.com if you have any questions!

jasoncruzdrums

Hi all,

I wish to begin this article with a Thank You to all who have visited my blog and read my article titled, “Practice Simplified” (https://jasoncruzdrums.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/practice-simplified-2/). This article dealt with the topic of “what to practice” and what is the force of correct guidance we should be in touch with to yield the desired results from our practice sessions – Music. In this follow-up article, I am targeting at a particular group of drummers who are playing drums on an amateur or semi-professional level. You are still studying in school or have a day job. You are either 1) playing drums for your own enjoyment, 2) playing drums with a band on weekends, or 3) playing drums on gigs on weekends and getting paid for it. Time is understandably limited for you to enjoy some personal time flailing on the drums to your heart’s content. However, here is one…

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Updates..

Hey guys,

What’s up? It’s been a long while since my last post and that’s an indication of how busy I’ve been. Life is good so far.

Here’s a couple of updates:

1) The Black Monolith Album Launch At Hood Bar: May 23rd At 8pm, Hood Bar (Bugis)

https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackMonolithSG

2) The Ninth Order Debut album to be released (original Pop/Rock project). More details coming soon.

Look out for more articles on drumming techniques and philosophies.

Cheers!

In Memoriam: Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, 1st Prime Minister of Singapore

As a Singaporean, I am very affected by the passing of this remarkable man.

As a Singaporean, I am very grateful that he gave his life to the noble cause of developing Singapore from a 3rd world country to a 1st world one. I was born in 1983, in a time when Singapore was already thriving and prosperous and was just about to usher in the era of information technology, which would put Singapore on the map as an economic force to be reckoned with.

As a Singaporean, I am a beneficiary of the incredibly outstanding work that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his pioneering and highly capable team had put in, along with the generation of civilians who supported the cause and worked hard together with Mr. Lee’s government.

Whatever our political convictions are, and I myself have developed strong political views, and despite the fact that we may not always agree with the way Mr. Lee did things, we must give credit where credit is due.

What can we learn from a brilliant man such as Mr. Lee Kuan Yew? How can we apply some of those principles in our lives and in our work?

For me, Mr. Lee’s principle of being very realistic but at the same time overcoming the obstacles to achieve one’s goals is a profound lesson for me, and one that I certainly wish to apply in my life and work as a musician. His ability to see the situation for what was and not lie to himself that such range of problems did not exist was his first step to carving out firm and effective solutions. This also required an extremely in-depth analysis of the situation or problem, which the world agrees, is one of Mr. Lee’s talents. From there he was able to steer his team and his people towards more economic growth and an improved standard of living.

Mr. Lee was also very decisive even when faced with making difficult choices because he believed it to be for the greater good of his people. That means you cannot please everyone. You will always be judged for the choices you make, but in time the end results will reveal the truth behind your choices.

Mr. Lee had a heart for the less fortunate and did great work to improve their lives. Whilst I pursue my goals and ambitions, I also want to extend whatever help I can to the less fortunate around me. Thus in my work as a musician and coach for example, if I could teach a person from a poor background how to play the drums, that could give him or her a skill to find a way out of poverty and do something that is positive for the world at the same time.

I mourn Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s passing but I also celebrate his life and his work. Rest in peace, Sir, and thank you for all you have done for SIngapore.

Christmas and New Year Message From Jason Cruz Drums

Hey folks,

First off, may your Christmas celebrations today be uplifting and GROOVY. Let us celebrate the good, heal from our hurts, and affirm Life.

As we’re almost coming to the end of the year, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to each and everyone of you who came by my blog, read my articles, and engaged my music services, either for drum lessons, studio recordings, or live gigs. YOU have kept me alive this year. YOU have given me a reason to carry on as a musician. YOU are a blessing in my life.  I could not have accomplished what I have accomplished in 2014 without YOU.

2014 was a very eventful year that provided abundant opportunities for growth. I am a very different musician now than I was in January.

Here are some of the projects I had the great privilege and pleasure to work on:

The Black Monolith – Album coming out in February 2015. We’re starting to write new songs for the next recording project.

PLATE – Album coming out in April 2015

The 9th Order – A new original Pop/Rock project. Will be commencing recording of the debut album soon.

Ash Ramani – The psychedelic rock guitarist you never heard……….YET!!!

Lim Yin Liang – Completed recording sessions for his album and is now currently being mixed for release somewhere in the first quarter of next year.

One of my goals for 2014 was to go back to producing some drum cover videos. I had planned to do at least 6 videos, but teaching and gigging piled up, so I managed to only squeeze in time for half of that. Go to my youtube page: Dogdrum, if you haven’t checked those out. There’s more to come in 2015!!

I wish to thank all the lovely musicians I got to gig with this year. Thank you all for making it such a fun experience and let’s do it all over again in 2015!!

Last but not least, 2014 has been such a great year for teaching. I’ve become more passionate about drumming education than I had ever been. The students are awesome and I’m excited to get started with the new ones starting in January. Each of the current students has grown in his/her playing even if it’s by a margin.  What is more important to me though, is that through the lessons, Music now takes a special place in their hearts. If I have accomplished that, then my lessons are successful. I think I have, seeing the dedication and commitment from all my students towards their craft.

2014 gives me the courage to take on whatever is to come in 2015. I do so with pride, honour, and integrity. 2015 is going to ROCK…I know it…I smell it,…Do you smell it?? Coz I smell it…

Cheers!