music

September 2016: My Best Month So Far..

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The two pictures above sum up one of the best gigs I ever did in my close to 9 year journey as a musician: The My Squad Is Better Than Yours TV show by Mediacorp’s Channel 5. In summary, it is a TV music competition show pitting various local celebrity performers and entertainers in group and solo categories.

Here’s a video clip from one of the contestant’s, Jermaine Leong’s, solo performances on the “Rock week” episode, which was taped live on 14th September 2016 and broadcast on 18th September 2016 at 9.30pm.

She did a fantastic rendition of the late Prince’s iconic song, Purple Rain, and I was so happy to be back there on the drums supporting her on this performance.

I do hope Prince approves of our version!!

Although Jermaine’s team didn’t win in this particular episode we were on, this particular performance is well considered a true highlight of the show, and I think it will stand as one for a long time to come. Let time decide that.

As far as my drumming goes, I think I have achieved a breakthrough in terms of capturing a more laid-back feel – something I have to work very hard on. It’s still a work in progress, but I think I have alot more confidence now to really master this feel.

I hope you enjoyed watching and listening to this clip. Do look out for Jermaine Leong’s music.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

New Album Out: Sunny Deo And The Ninth Order’s Mystic String

Hope your new year started off on a good footing.

It’s with great pride that I announce the release of a newalbum that I worked on between the fall of 2014 and May of 2015. It’s called Mystic String and it features a diverse set of 10 songs which run the gamut from Pop to Rock to Jazz to even abit of World Music.

Working on developing the song arrangements with the band and producer as well as recording the drum tracks are certainly two of the greatest highlights in my career so far. I learnt so much more about recording with greater precision and consistency from working with a grammy-nominated producer, Duke Purisima, who presided over the production of this album; and grammy-nominated recording and mixing engineer, Jerry Chua, who designed the sound of this album. Jerry is also a very well respected drummer, thus alot of scrutiny was naturally placed on my performances!

All in all, this album captures some of my best drumming in the studio so far in terms of creative drum parts, versatility with different styles, time, feel, and consistency. I certainly look forward to doing another album with this band and this production team.

Here’s the link to previewing the album online and purchasing it as a digital download:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sunnydeoandtheninthorder.

Feel free to give me your feedback on the album!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on Recording Projects: The Black Monolith and The Ninth Order

Hey folks,

Hope your start to 2015 was a great one. If it wasn’t, have faith, keep pushing in your chosen direction, make adjustments if necessary, believe in yourself, and things will get better as the year progresses.

I’m excited to announce that Black Monolith’s first album will be due for completion by end of March. We’ve also just done one gig for an Arts-event which was very well received. We have another gig coming up, an acoustic one, at Lasalle College Of The Arts.

I’m currently in the midst of another recording project for a Pop/Rock outfit called the Ninth Order. The band comprises:

Sunny Deo – Lead Vocals / Principal Songwriter

Kevin Mikhail – Lead Guitars

Sean Rezel – Rhythm Guitars

Bobby Chan – Keyboards

Muhammad Sultan – Bass

Yours truly – Drums, Percussion.

These guys are another great bunch to work with. Its a very relaxed and fun atmosphere – two things you need to make great music.

This project marks the first time that I’m working with an established producer. He’s none other than Mr. Duke Purisima, who’s a 2013 Grammy Nominee for his work on Arun Shenoy’s album, Rumbadoodle. It is a great honour and privilege to work with someone of those credentials, and it gives me both security and confidence in my contributions to the album. His advice helps alot in improving the drum parts and my performances that have been recorded so far have been above even my own expectations.

Watch this space for updates!!!!

To Fill-In Or Not To Fill-In??

I wanted to write this short post to address the above question that plagues the minds of many beginner drummers.

The only advice I’ll offer is this:

STEAL ideas from other drummers. Yes. STEAL. Then, over time and experience, make those ideas your own.

I am assuming you already understand the function of the fill-in and its musical purpose. Fill-Ins have to be CLEAR, IN TIME, CONFIDENT, and APPROPRIATE to the music you are playing.

Your teacher can only show you the mechanics of how to execute a fill-in. In lessons introducing fill-ins you’d go through 4 bar, 8 bar, and 16-bar exercises for this, meaning that you fill-in on the last bar of each sequence whilst you play time for the rest of the preceding bars. To play fill-ins with taste and musical purpose however is something you need to develop largely on your own over time.

The only ways to develop confidence and tastefulness in your fill-ins are by:

1) Listening to tons and tons of records and getting ideas from the drummers who played on those records. This way, you’ll gain rhythmic vocabulary, phrasing, as well as learn how different drummers approach fill-ins by way of where they put their fill-ins within the song.

As you analyse the above things, ask yourself why did these drummers phrase and put the fill-ins in places where they did. Discuss these with your teacher and your drummer friends as well. I do alot of these type of discussions with my students, and these are some of the most fun parts of teaching for me.

2) Experimenting with those fill-in ideas on the drumkit once you’ve got them transcribed (either by writing it down or by ear)

3) Over time and experience, finding variations on those fill-in ideas to make these your own ideas.

There is no other way about these above 3 steps.  Use this guideline for the rest of your entire playing career and you will reap amazing results.

If you feel you need a couple of lessons to help you get started on fill-ins, you can contact me at 98291901 or email: jason@pulseofmusic.com for more information.

Cheers and Keep Drumming!

Introduction To Big Band Drumming Article By Stockton Helbing

http://www.stocktonhelbing.com/introduction_to_big_band_drumming.htm

As I’ve just stepped into the big band world with the City Swing Big Band (Singapore), I feel I have now entered the Doctorate level of musicianship.

I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about Big Band Jazz, but I strongly desire to be able to groove like those cats, as well as read and articulate charts like those cats with the precision and drive that they have. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and all thanks go to a musician friend who recommended me to the band’s musical director.

In addition to checking out videos and recordings of famous Big Bands including Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band, The Buddy Rich Big Band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra,  and The Benny Goodman Big Band, to name a few, I searched online for articles about the subject of Big Band drumming. I then came across Stockton Helbing’s article linked to his website about a week ago and found his thoughts on the life of a Big Band drummer very illuminating. If you’re curious about this type of drumming and music, please give the article (link included above) a read, and then go check out the music.

Cheers!

Practising Slowly

This short post is aimed at the beginner student.

Many times in my teaching studio, I come across alot of beginner students who tend to rush through their exercises to get to what they want quickly. They end up not sounding good at all because:

1) the physical control is not there
2) the co-ordination is not smooth
3) the timing is uneven
4) the inherent rhythmic nuances of whatever they are playing are often ignored as they rush through things in their practice.

It is important to understand that we had to learn how to walk first before we could run, jump, and dance, e.t.c. Taking our first baby steps were not easy, and we stumbled on the floor many times before our legs strengthened and could hold our weight whilst performing the action of walking. Over time, the legs were also better able to co-ordinate through SLOW and REPETITIVE practice.

Practising something slowly and repeating it over and over again will definitely come across as “uncool” in this day and age. We live in a world where we can order food and get it in less than 5 minutes over a counter, or we can lose weight in under 2 weeks if we follow a certain diet program or take certain pills. This type of thinking however does not translate to learning musical instruments or any other art form.

SLOW and REPETITIVE practice, done right (you should ask your teacher to help you with it if need be), brings a zen-like focus and clarity to what you are working on, and is often very therapeutic. Yes, therapeutic. It helps you to relax and remain calm under moments of pressure and frustration, which are what you will often experience when you are trying to master something. Calmness and composure are very much needed to play the drumkit. How else can you play something as complex as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCOP7dPlDtw if you are not truly relaxed?

With SLOW and REPETITIVE practice, comes CONTROL. With CONTROL, comes speed. In other words, speed is a by-product of having practised something over and over again slowly…Counter-intuitive, yes?

SLOW and REPETITIVE practice at the beginning is like trying to eat a non-favourite vegetable or fruit (mine happens to be Bittergourd), in all honesty. Do it in small amounts with high frequency however and you will definitely begin to enjoy the process. You would want to do more. JUST GIVE IT A TRY AND SEE YOUR PROGRESS BY A MONTH’S END. There will certainly be a difference. A POSITIVE difference.

Jonathan Meur’s 2012 Christmas Single, December By The Isle Of You, Nominated For Best Pop Song At VIMA Music Awards.

Ref: https://jasoncruzdrums.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/christmas-in-singapore-review-on-straits-times/ Yeap! That’s right!! Glad to have contributed drums to this composition. Here’s the link to the song:

http://jonathanmeur.bandcamp.com/track/december-by-the-isle-of-you-2

And voting is on-going now!!

Here’s how:
1. Go to http://www.joota.com/jootaverse/decks/15883
2. Find “December” on the page
3. Click on the person icon to cast your vote
4. Sign up for a Joota account (quick and painless!)
Make sure you only click once, as a 2nd click would cancel the 1st. That’s it!
Please help spread the word among your family, friends, colleagues, pets and imaginary friends. THANK YOU in advance for the support!

Vote the song if you dig it!!