Monday, March 30, 2009

A Chance to See the World

As I boarded my flight from JFK to Frankfurt last night to attend my 10th Frankfurt Music Messe, I couldn't help but reflect on the international travel I've done over the past 10 years. Compared to many, 10-years of international, or Frankfurt Music Messe attendance is not so much, but for me it is a bit of a milestone.

Over the past 10 years, I've had the chance to visit the following countries (listed somewhat geographically as to not tax my memory too much):

New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, China, South Korean, Japan, Russia, India, U.A.E., U.K., Ireland, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay.

I've been slipped a "mickey" in Bangkok, Thailand; abandoned at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, and most recently I was in Siberia, Russia in November! I've also seen so many beautiful cities, met fantastic artists, outstanding businessmen, and great people! While the cultures of the world are fascinatingly different, the love and joy of music is universal.

As a young drummer (aspiring to be a percussionist) growing up in the corn field of Central Illinois (Sullivan, Illinois to be specific), I had aspirations of playing professionally and teaching at the university level. And, while that didn't work out as planned after graduating from Millikin University with a music business degree, and Northwestern with a masters in percussion, I couldn't have had a more wonderful and enriching professional life! After working for the Percussive Arts Society and Yamaha Corporation of America, my opportunity to do business internationally started in 1999 when I was at SABIAN. Since then with SABIAN, SKB, and now with D'Addario I continue to travel internationally.

As the wheels touched down last this morning, I couldn't help but reflect. There are more countries I'd love to travel too. What ones have I missed that you'd recommend?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Evans Products @ Dom Famularo's Studio


On Fri. 2/13 (Friday The 13th. ! Haa !) I ventured out to Port Jefferson, N.Y. to Dom Famularo's residence. As some of you know, Dom now hosts a live, interactive online Master Class, live from the new studio on his property. The studio is essentially an "Out Building" recently erected in his back yard. Inside, it's very roomy, climate controlled, & essentially a drummers dream, as it's filled w/gear, a computer, video monitors, a camera, practice pad set ups, etc. A very comfortable, well lit place to make music!

There, I outfitted the 2 Mapex Orion kits (identical configurations of 10", 12", 14", and 16" toms, 14" snare, and 22" bass) with the newest products that Evans now has to offer. Those include the Onyx tom heads, which are two 7.5 mil plys w/ a matte, satin coating. The Onyx EMAD, which is a single ply 10 mil in the same black film & coating,along w/ the Onyx Resonant (single ply 7 mil w/ a dampening ring, & a 5" off center port) & the EC 1 Reverse Dot, which is a 14 mil single ply w/the EC (Edge Control) ring, & a perforated dot. I mated the Onyx batters w/ clear G1's on the resonant side of the 10" & 12", and the "EC Resonant" on the underside of the 14" and 16".

The EC1 R.D. was mated w/ the trusty Hazy 300 (always my choice) & a set of Puresound Blasters 20 strand snare wires...always my choice as well, for every snare I own (and I own about 20 at this point). There's something about the way the end plates are shaped...bent to bow the wires into the head more...that seems to give more response & tone. It's not a night and day difference compared to the Custom Series, but it's enough to notice, I think.

I was very curious about how the Onyx heads would sound & feel, as I usually utilize the MX White" tenor heads (2 x 7.5 mil plys) as tom batters. Not the norm I know, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I rarely go with what most players deem normal, to say the least !

Since they are both 2- 7.5 mil plys, I thought they'd be very similar, but they're really not. Comparatively, the MX White are more "Warm" in tone, overall, and with less attack. The Onyx had noticeably more brightness compared to the MX White, but not to the point where it was undesirable. However, compared to the G2 or the EC2, the ONYX are noticeably darker sounding. The matte, textured coating makes for an interesting visual, as well. Overall, these are definitely for heavier hitters, but will really work for just about any style short of jazz. After a couple of weeks with the heads, Dom commented that "The black Onyx heads on both drum sets sound fantastic. I was so amazed at the full sound with each tom. My students have been so inspired to play the kits even more than usual. They smile when they play! Again, Evans sets a high standard on innovation!"

Since it's debut, the EC Reverse Dot has been my snare batter of choice and is my absolute favorite designated snare head that I've ever tried, and that Evans has ever made! That being said, the EC1 Reverse Dot is absolutely great! The sound is similar to the EC Reverse Dot, but how it feels is the main difference that I noticed. Just like the EC1 tom batter (single ply, 14 mil) feels different from the EC2 tom batter (2- 7 mil plys), there is the same difference in feel w/ these snare batters. They're a little more firm than a G1 or even the Power Center, but they still feel like single-ply heads should...providing a little more stick rebound and more give than a 2-ply. Compared to most single-ply heads, however, users will be well rewarded w/increased durability and overtone control.

The EMAD Onyx reacted pretty much like the original EMAD, but with a little more punch and a darker sound. It's easy to immediately fall in love with the EMAD, which I did back in 2001, when it debuted. In my (and many other players) opinion, your bass drum will sound like it never did before with the installation of this amazing batter head. I installed the AF (Aramid Fiber) patch as well. It's unrivaled in durability, and adds some "Slap". I usually play in un-miced situations with a wood beater that's been cut down at an angle, so as to maximize the impact by getting the full width of the beater to strike the head. The AF patch has not let me down yet!

I always play with an un-ported resonant head, so it's hard for me to comment definitively on any sonic relevance that the matte coating produces on the Onyx Resonant. To me, it was more of an aesthetic thing. You simply rarely see a matte finish bass drum resonant head, and it just plain looks cool!

There was also a concert snare and a marching snare in the studio, as well. Those were outfitted with a Strata Staccato 1000 and an Orchestral 300 for the concert snare, and the Hybrid batter and the MX5 resonant for the marching snare.

Credit must go to two of Dom's students who were gracious enough to give of their time to help with the stripping & installation of all drums. That would be Jimmy Scott, & Jake Sommers, two seriously talented young players who you will be surely hearing more about in the future! I also must mention the contribution of Rick Drumm (D'Addario President) who helped out with the maintenance of the Orchestral & Marching snares.

So, tune into Dom's master classes to get an idea of what all these heads sound like in a "Real World" application. You are sure to learn something from all the great players that will be participating in these classes.