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Artist News & Happenings - 2003
Up Close & Personal
Jorge Bermudez

Hi My People!

We have an early Christmas blessing. Thank you Lord!

I am writing to invite you to watch Episode 302 of the new season of Emmy Award winning show "The Shield" on F/X.

A new season begins in January and that means that fortunately The Bermudez Triangle track " Cu-cu-cumbia" will be played on  Episode 302 which translates to the 2nd episode of the 3rd season which will air in January sometime.

Check your TV guides. I hope they play it loud enough so we can all  hear it.

Thanks for your support,

Feliz Navidad,
Jorge Bermudez



Tony Thompson

Drummer Tony Thompson Dead At 48

Last Wednesday (November 12), drummer Tony Thompson - who came to fame with Chic and later, The Power Station - died after a battle with renal cell cancer. Thompson was about to celebrate his 49th birthday when he passed away, leaving behind his wife Patrice and their two children.

Thompson, known for his powerful and perfect drumming, had a long and rich career. He first gained recognition with Patti LaBelle's group, LaBelle, before joining Nile Rodgers, Alfa Anderson, Norma Jean Wright and Bernard Edwards in the funk / disco band Chic. Chic were hugely successful, scoring a #1 song with "Le Freak" in 1978.

Following Chic's demise, Thompson went on to join Duran Duran's John and Andy Taylor in The Power Station, for which the first singer was Robert Palmer, who, sadly, died earlier this year. The Power Station had hits with "Some Like It Hot" and a cover of T. Rex's "Get It On (Bang A Gong)." Thompson’s drumming propelled the songs, and cut through the overly slick '80's production; he may have made a name for himself as a funk drummer, but the sheer force behind his pounding was pure rock. This was proven when he joined Led Zeppelin for their reunion show at Live Aid in 1985. The show went so well, they recorded some songs together. However, they were never released.

As is so often the case with musicians, Thompson lived his life without health insurance and now his family is faced with the added stress of copious unpaid hospital bills. Tax-deductible donations can be made at tonythompsonfund.com or at nilerodgers.com.

Without hyperbole, Thompson was among the finest drummers around. Powerful yet tasteful, he made good bands great. He’ll be missed.

- Joanne Huffa


Jason Schultz

The recent wildfires which raged out of control in Southern California have hit home here at Paiste. Jason Schultz of the band "The Skeletones" has lost his home, pets and possessions to this devastating fire. We at Paiste felt compelled to help in some way, so we are accepting donations on Jason's behalf. Any amount will help and we thank you very much in advance for your help.



Steve Smith


My webmaster, Wayne Saroyan, has been busy uplifting the www.vitalinformation.com website. Please check out the newspage for some Summer Tour photos, Drum Solo Transcriptions, and News about what I've been up to recently. www.vitalinformation.com/steve/news.html

I have a very busy November. It starts with some dates with the Indian / Jazz / Fusion group Summit. The current incarnation of the group is George Brooks on sax, Kai Eckhardt on bass, Fareed Haque on guitar and the incredible T. H. "Vikku" Vinayakram on Ghatam. "Vikku" was in the original Shakti and the original Planet Drum. He is the great Indian master of the Ghatam -- the clay pot. We play in Los Angeles, CA and Oakland, CA -- the dates and venues are listed at www.vitalinformation.com.

After the Summit dates I play a number of clinics throughout November and into December. I'll be traveling around the USA, Asia, New Zealand, South America and back to the USA. They are all listed on my website.

The new Hudson DVD "Modern Drummer Festival 2003" is now available. I'm quite happy we got to document the Vital Information group -- with Tom Coster, Baron Browne, Frank Gambale -- playing with our Special Guest Bill Evans on sax. We were in the middle of our 2003 USA tour so the band felt pretty comfortable and the music is high energy!! I also play an improvised drum solo and demonstrate some snare drum techniques. The entire concert has some great moments from all of the drummers that played, check it out!

I've already booked some clinics, and Vital Information gigs in 2004. The clinics will be posted on my website after the first of 2004. Vital Information will play at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim and we have a January date in Las Vegas. Frank Gambale will be touring Europe with his trio in February and March -- go to www.frankgambale.com for details.

Mid February and early March is set aside for a Buddy’s Buddies tour to support our two new CDs on the Tone Center label. The band features Buddy Rich alumni Steve Marcus on tenor / soprano and Andy Fusco on alto, rounding out the rhythm section is Mark Soskin on piano (Sonny Rollins) and Baron Browne on bass (Vital Info / Jean-Luc Ponty). The first of the two CDs, "Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies Very Live at Ronnie Scott's -- Set One" was released in July. The second CD, "Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies Very Live at Ronnie Scott's -- Set Two" was released in October. The reviews have been glowing and there is a lot of interest in the band. We're going to focus on the East Coast and the Midwest at first and then see if we can branch out to some other areas.

Check out the "Moments Notice" drum solo transcriptions in the latest DRUM! Magazine. The transcriptions were taken from the Buddy's Buddies CDs. I've also reprinted the article and have PDF files of the transcription on my website:

That's it for now, Take Care and hope to see you on the road! Steve Smith


Frank Colon

Hi, Negro!!! Hi, Pam!!!

Greetings from Baku, Azerbaijan! I've been touring thru middle Asia with the AK-4 (the Adam Klipple Quartet - featuring Adam on Keys, Dave Ambrosio on bass and Aaron Johnston on drums!!!) We're touring on a Jazz Ambassadors outing sponsored by the US State Dept and the Kennedy Center.

We burned thru Russia for 10 days and then proceeded to tear it up thru Uzbekistan, Kirgystan and Turkmenistan. Now, we're in Azerbaijan for the weekend.... next we'll do Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova!!

This quartet is HAPPENING!!!! Our focus is Latin Jazz, but we take it anywhere from electronica to classical, with tons of percussion and drum features! We've been throwing down so heavy that we are now actually "Banned in Turkmenistan", as our music promotes "free thinking and uncontrollable rhythmic shaking of the body"!

As usual, I'll keep you informed of what's happening with me in the realm of music and drums!

All the best to you and lots of big hugs!

www.frankcolon.com / www.kravmaga.bz


Scott Crago

Hello from Scott Crago. I just finished 6 months with the Eagles. Off for the rest of the year.

Stay in touch....
Kindness... Scott


Mike Smith

Here's the latest.... Played 4 the Lion King DVD release gala at the El Capitan Theater last month... A concert at the Black Expo held at the L.A. Convention Center w/ Jerry Peters & we backed up The Emotions.

Did several of the Jazz festivals this past summer... Long Beach w/ Kirk Whalum (sat in the full set).... Carson Jazz Festival w/ Angela Bofill... w/ Ricky Lawson as the MD.... Lynwood Jazz festival w/ singer T.C. Carson... from the TV show "Living Single" & The Playboy Jazz Festival at Pasadena w/ Brian Hughes, Guitarist.

I was Music Contractor & Percussionist for "The Pioneers and the Prolific", honoring famous African Americans in Entertainment, California African American Museum.

Recordings: Kevin Toney "Sweet Spot".... Reggie C... new artist (Sax) out of Detroit... listen for him... & Larry Washington's new CD project.... & on Andrew Carney's (trumpet) CD project.

That's it 4 now!


Terry Silverlight

Hello Pam,

How are you? I hope all is great with you.

... new CD is available at CD Baby.com. Entitled "Wild", it features my compositions and drumming plus performances by Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Edgar Winter, Hiram Bullock, Chuck Loeb, Lew Soloff and other greats.

I'll be getting copies the end of this week, so I'll send you one ASAP. It'll be available to purchase at CD Baby the middle of next week. Availabilty will gradually be expanded...

Thanks and best wishes.


Ronald Spagnardi Memorial Scholarship

A scholarship fund has been established in Ron Spagnardi's memory at his alma mater, Berklee College Of Music. Contributions can be made to The Ronald Spagnardi Memorial Scholarship, Berklee College Of Music, Attention Beverly Tryon, 1140 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215-3693. Drummers interested in applying for this scholarship can contact Berklee at (617) 747-2660 or tryon@Berklee.edu



Hi, I wanted to let you know about a CD project that I am a part of that has just been released internationally.

The cd is called 'Frames without Borders' and it features several of the best frame drummers in the world including Layne Redmond, Judy Piazza, Ganash Anandan, Peyman Nasapour, and N. Scott Robinson. This cd is a collaboration from members of an online frame drum discussion group. The project began about year ago.

I want to thank my friend Paullette for helping me with my piece for this cd:

I was reluctant to send in a piece because although I love frame drumming I don't focus much on frame drumming compared to djembe and I do not consider myself in the same catagory as some of the frame drum masters that were going to be on the CD. Then I figured "what the hell - why not?"

I tried for several weeks to record a piece but I just couldn't get a good recording. (Frame drums are hard to record because the open finger tones are not loud and you must turn the microphone level up high to record them. A the same time the bass tones are loud and because the microphone level is already turned up they will overload the microphone.) The deadline for the cd was only day away and I still didn't have a piece so I was about ready to give up. I was burnt out on trying to record and although I had one last day to get it done I just didn't feel like messing with it. I went to a drum circle at Unity. After the circle I played some other stuff that I had been working on (drum stuff and demos for Rod Lingo's cd) for my friend Paulette. She loved them and was very enthusiastic about how they sounded. By the time we were done I was in a great mood and went home and everything came together and I recorded the piece on the cd in one afternoon. I sent it in the next day. Although I wish that I had a few more days to work on it (I had a couple of more parts that I wanted to add) I am pretty happy with the final result. Thanks Paulette!!!

And the added benefit is that at about the same time that this happenned (the piece was finished and sent in last year) I got to hang out with N. Scott Robinson when he was here and he got me interested in the Udu drum. I bought one and started practicing quite a bit. The techniques used are very similar to frame drumming. I also started teaching frame drumming to the UIS class on a regular basis. Because of all of this I got into playing the frame drum more. My frame drum playing has improved quite a bit since then. I have a class coming up at Lincoln Land in the next few weeks and hopefully will be setting up more frame drumming and middle eastern drumming workshops and classes in the future.

you can purchase the cd at this website:


Take care,


Modern Drummer Editor / Publisher Ronald Spagnardi
April 26, 1943 - September 22, 2003

To our drummer, percussionist, and drum-industry friends around the world:

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Ronald Spagnardi, founder and publisher of Modern Drummer Publications. Ron died Monday, September 22 at the age of sixty, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Ron was a true visionary who saw a need for drummers to have an informative and entertaining publication of their own. In 1977 he put his family's savings on the line to create that publication, which he named Modern Drummer.

Over the ensuing twenty-seven years, Ron expanded MD Publications to include books by several well-known drummers, as well as several of his own. He also created Drum Business, a magazine specifically for drum retailers. And he was the producer of the legendary MD Festival Weekends.

In all that time and through all his projects, Ron never strayed from his credo to "promote the dream of drumming" to readers around the world. It is the pledge of the entire MD staff to continue in that same spirit, and never to lose sight of Ron's original vision. The March 2004 issue of MD will carry a special tribute to the man who did so much to bring education and entertainment to so many drummers.

Though Ron's passing is a tragedy, he leaves behind a well-trained and capable staff thoroughly dedicated to the missions that he originally conceived for Modern Drummer and Drum Business. As we know Ron would wish, the publication schedule and quality level of both magazines will continue uninterrupted.

Services will be held at Shooks Funeral Home, 486 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Viewing will take place on Wednesday, September 24 from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. and on Thursday, September 25 from 2:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. A funeral mass will be conducted on Friday, September 26 at 10:30 A.M. at St. Catherine Of Siena church, 339 Pompton Avenue in Cedar Grove, with interment to follow.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship fund will be established by Ron's family and the staff of Modern Drummer Publications. Details for contributions to that fund will be announced shortly, and will also appear in the March issue tribute.


Mike Botts

Hello to all!

OK! OK! I know what you're thinking. Is this guy ever going to write that road journal? I apologize for taking so long for the first entry but when you get back home after a long tour there's always something waiting for you. It's called LIFE! You know, the life you left behind so you could hit the highway and play music, the one that continues while you're away and the one you have to deal with when you get back. Phone calls, E-mail, bills, more phone calls, more E-mail and more bills! After all that, I figured I deserved to take some time off but I ended up doing jury duty. Anyway, I'm finally able to get started on gathering my loose memories and impressions of the summer tour in the form of a journal and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

There's also some interesting news regarding my CD, "Adults Only." Not only has the "Adults Only" CD been restocked but CD Baby has just formed a partnership with Tower Records. Now the entire CD Baby artist catalogue is also available through Tower Records online. So if you haven't checked out "Adults Only" yet, now's the time to jump into cyberspace and give a listen at my website or at CDBaby.com.

I'll be sending future journal entries on a somewhat regular basis. I say somewhat because I really have no idea how long each one will take. Sometimes there's something very threatening about a blank page and it takes a little while to write anything of interest in an interesting way. So, bear with me. I hope you enjoy this first installment. :-)

The best from Botts

Fogelberg Tour 2003 - Rehearsals

Well, after a very, very long travel day I finally made it to my hotel. All the band members' flights arrived at approximately the same time and although we had all worked together on many previous tours with Dan, this was a relatively new line-up. Long time Fogelberg veteran, Robert McEntee was doing guitar and keyboard parts as well as adding his vocal talents to the ensemble once again. Jim Photoglo, an extremely accomplished singer / songwriter in his own right, was taking over on electric bass and background vocals with that beautiful high tenor voice of his. And of course, the inimitable Michael 'Zoot' Hanna was on keyboards, which meant he would be covering everything from Grand piano and Hammond organ to complete orchestral string parts.

As I mentioned earlier, we had all worked individually with Dan at various times in his career but not in this particular configuration of players. I was very anxious to see what kind of musical chemistry we would create together. I had no doubt that it would be a great touring band but I also knew we had some serious work ahead of us if we were going to reach our full potential.

Of course, individual preparation for the tour began weeks before when we all received a tentative set list. And believe me, it's not just about memorizing a bunch of parts and stringing them together into songs! If that were the case, it would be easier just to read sheet music. In some ways it's similar to an actor preparing for a role. Sure you have to learn your lines but then you have to get in to the character and breathe some life into it. It's the same way with a well crafted song. Hopefully, you eventually reach a tipping point where you're no longer consciously concerned with what note or musical figure to play but how you play it. How does it work with the songs dynamics and harmonic colors? How does it work with the theme and how does it work with the vocal phrasing? Dan Fogelberg has written some brilliant songs over the years and they require as much from the heart as from the head. Compositions like these deserve a 110% effort in preparation and performance and I've always welcomed the opportunity to rise to the challenge.

By the end of our first few days of rehearsals, things started to come together pretty well. With Dan's songs and arrangements to guide us and his vocals as the glue to hold it all together, a real band began to take shape. We didn't think about the songs anymore as much as flow with them. Everything you needed to know was constantly being telegraphed by Dan and the other members of the group. All you really had to do was open up your mind and LISTEN! And no matter how many times you've performed the songs, each time you played them, they would be slightly different. I'm sure that many of the hard core 'Dan fans', who have attended multiple concerts, will know what I'm talking about. It's those little nuances, that personal signature by the artists, that really gives the music life. Although we were getting tighter by the day, the rehearsal time, that seemed, at first, more than enough, now seemed terribly inadequate. With just a few days left until our production rehearsal at the first venue, you can bet we were feeling the pressure. Of course, with a group of musicians like these the confidence level was pretty high and I knew we would be ready when we hit the stage for the first show.


Steve Smith


2003 has been a very busy and intense year for me and all of the members of Vital Information. Our keyboard player, Tom Coster, has been touring with Billy Cobham and Bill Evans. Guitarist Frank Gambale has been touring with the Chick Corea Elektric Band and Billy Cobham. Our bassist Baron Browne has also been touring with Billy Cobham -- Billy has seen us play a number of times and it seems he likes us!

I started the year with various clinics, a performance with Gambale / Hamm / Smith at the NAMM show in Southern California and a Vital Information tour of Europe that took us all over Europe, England, Russia and Turkey. The European tour was our most successful to date and we played to sold out houses most nights. I kept a daily tour diary that is archived at www.hudsonmusic.com and also on my website: www.vitalinformation.com

By the end of May Vital Info had toured most the U.S.A. with Bill Evans joining us a Special Guest. Bill is one of the greatest sax players on the scene today and one funny man. Between him and Tom Coster -- our official band jester -- we laughed our way through the entire tour. The band responded well to having a sax player up front and we played at a new level of intensity. When we played at the Modern Drummer Festival on May 17th, the folks from Hudson Music filmed the concert and we did capture some of the magic that happened every night of the tour. The Modern Drummer 2003 DVD will be released later this year. Also at that concert Modern Drummer presented me with the Readers Poll Award for "Educational Video / DVD of the Year - 2003" for my DVD "Drumset Technique and History of the U.S. Beat." Thank you to all the folks that voted for me! It is a great honor to get that kind of acknowledgment from the drumming community.

In June I toured the Canadian Jazz Festivals with the Steve Smith / Mike Zilber group which features Mike Zilber on sax (as well as arrangements and compositions), John Shifflett on acoustic bass and Paul Nagel on piano. We released a CD earlier this year called “Reimagined Vol. One, Jazz Standards.” This group usually only plays in the San Francisco Bay Area, but Mike was able to book us a tour of Canada. For the tour we had the legendary Dave Liebman as our Special Guest. Playing with Dave was a thrill and a great learning experience for me. He is very serious about jazz and we had enlightening talks about music and my playing felt like it evolved over the course of the tour. We have some more dates coming up with this group featuring Dave Liebman and Fareed Haque at the end of September...

In late June I went to Cape Cod for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, which was a huge bash!

I took two trips over the Atlantic in July, one to Spain and Turkey with Summit, the “Indian / Jazz” group with George Brooks (sax), Zakir Hussain (tabla), Kai Eckhardt (bass) and Fareed Haque (guitar). I came home for a week and helped my son Ian find a place in San Francisco where he is attending college. Then I went to London to perform at Rhythm Sticks, a yearly percussion festival. I performed with the World Percussion Trio made up of myself along with Hakim Ludin on hand drums and Karuna Murthy on the South Indian drum called the Tavil. There is a related story on this concert on the Steve Smith news page at www.vitalinformation.com

On August 4th I played a fun gig in Seattle, WA opening for Procol Harum -- one of my more unique bookings! Since all of the Vital Info band members were on tour with Billy Cobham in Europe, I put together a new group that featured Geoffrey Keezer on keyboard, Mike Zilber on sax and Dave Carpenter on bass. The music we played was a combination of Vital Info tunes and the “Reimagined” jazz standards played in the electric style, similar to an early Weather Report sound. We had a ball and the music was extremely high level. I’d like to do some gigs with this band.

After all of this touring I needed a break! I’ve decided to spend most of August at my retreat in Ashland, OR a beautiful little town in Southern Oregon. My daughter Elizabeth will be attending college here in the fall. For now I spend the days answering backed up email, practicing a little and trying to recharge. I need to come up with some ideas for new Vital Information tunes, and some of the other projects I’m involved with. I also spend a fair amount of time doing interviews and working with my agent, Janet Williamson, on gigs for the rest of this year and into 2004.

I’ll resume touring in September with a clinic tour across Canada. I’ll also attend -- as an audience member -- the Tribute to Armand Zildjian and Steve Gadd that Zildjian is putting on in Boston on September 13th, that should be a blast. In late September I have a couple of gigs with the Zilber / Smith / Liebman group and one night in Pullman, WA with a fantastic South Indian guitar player named Prasanna. We will play a duo concert of Indian / Fusion music at the local college.

October is set aside to record a new Vital Information CD. We already have a lot of new tune ideas in the works but we need about two weeks of concentrated writing and recording time to come up with a new albums worth of music. I’ve also been thinking about having a couple of Special Guests on the CD to keep it fresh and interesting for us.

November looks like I’ll play some more gigs with Summit and then Vital Information will travel to the Far East and play in Shanghai China. I’ll come back to the USA for clinics and a performance at PASIC on November 20th in Louisville, KY.

In early December Sonor has me going to Chile for a three day drum festival. I’ve never been to South America before, so that will be a new experience.

We’re already starting to book some work into 2004. Vital Information may be in the Pacific Northwest sometime in February. Late February and early March is set aside for a Buddy’s Buddies tour to support our two new CDs on the Tone Center label. The band features Buddy Rich alumni Steve Marcus on tenor / soprano and Andy Fusco on alto, rounding out the rhythm section is Mark Soskin on piano (Sonny Rollins) and Baron Browne on bass (Vital Info / Jean-Luc Ponty). The first of the two, “Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies Very Live at Ronnie Scott’s -- Set One” was released in July. The second CD, “Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies Very Live at Ronnie Scott’s -- Set Two” is slated for an October release. The reviews have been glowing and there is a lot of interest in the band. We’re going to focus on the East Coast and the Midwest at first and then see if we can branch out to some other areas.

The DVD of the NYC concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Collective has come out recently on Hudson Music and it is a smokin’ DVD. Dave Weckl and his group sound amazing at this concert as well as The John Patitucci / Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez Trio and Steve Gadd and the Gadd Gang. I started my performance solo and then I play in duet with the incredible bass player, Victor Wooten, which was a total treat! Check it out at www.hudsonmusic.com

That’s it for now. Thank you all for coming out to see us play and supporting the music. We all love playing for full houses and it’s all of you who make that possible by caring enough to come out and see us play live.

Take Care and hope to see you on the road! Steve Smith


Denis Courchesne

Hi Pam,

How's are you ?
I hope everything is going well! ...

I thought of giving you an up date of what I've been doing lately. The TV Show "Fun Noir" is starting this week for our 3rd year. (145 shows / year) I believe I gave you pictures and a montage from last year shows.

This summer I've been touring with Lynda Thalie. We played many summer festivals. She's great.



I also played on the Quebec's National Birthday. Here's a few pictures taken during the soundcheck in Quebec city and press reviews of the concert. We broke the record of the largest audience this year, more than 250 000 pers. live and over one million on France TV5 and TQS...

I look forward to hear from you.
Say hello to Negro if you see him.
All the best !


Denis Courchesne


Mark Walker

Dear Friends,

Here's some updated info...

New CD Releases:

Paquito D'Rivera / WDR Big Band / Claudio Roditi / Oscar Stagnaro / Mark Walker / Pernell Saturnino / Bill Dobbins "Big Band Time" (Termidor / Universal)

Jim Ridl's "Door in a Field" (Dreambox Media) with Jim Ridl - piano, Daryll Hall - bass, MW- drums. www.jimridl.com

Dave Gordon "Faux Real" (Southport) www.davegordonmusic.com

Andrew Sterman "Blue Canvas With Spiral" (Paxloon Music) Featuring Fred Hersch, Rashied Ali, Steve Rodby, Erik Friedlander, Bob Palmieri, Mick Rossi, Mark Walker and others. www.andrewsterman.com

Recent Sessions:

Jon Weber (genius pianist from Chicago) - "Simple Complex" featuring Gary Burton, Eric Alexander, Avishai Cohen, Diego Urcola and others. www.jonwebermusic.com

NDR Big Band (Hamburg) featuring Paquito D'Rivera recorded two live concerts for the radio.

3 tracks for Dave Samuels' upcoming Caribbean Jazz Project CD on Concord featuring Randy Brecker, Romero Lubambo, Dario Eskenazi and Ruben Rodriguez.

NYC demo date produced by Michel Camilo for multi-million-selling Japanese singer Hiromi Go.

Upcoming Sessions:

"Misa Afro-Cubana" Michael Philip Mossman / Juan Pablo Torres / Mark Walker / Pernell Saturnino / WDR Big Band (Cologne) will be recorded in December 2003 and released on Termidor/Universal in 2004

A new loop disc for Sonic Emulations - yet to be titled; will be hard-hitting rock / funk and a follow-up to "Chameleon Drums Vol. 1 & 2". www.sonicstop.com

Companion/ play along CD for educational book by Mark Walker, "South American Rhythms for Drumset" (Drummers Collective / Carl Fischer Music)

Educational Activities:

Associate Professor of Percussion at Berklee College of Music; teaching Brazilian percussion and all-around drumset; Presenting new course: "South American Rhythms for Drumset"

Faculty, Drummers Collective, NYC

Upcoming book, "South American Rhythms for Drumset" (Drummers Collective / Carl Fischer Music)

more info at www.wiggage.com/markwalker.html


Sean O'Rourke

Amidst it all, work has been very good.

New Records include:

1. Howard Tate "Rediscovered" , on RCA records. Available at www.amazon.com

2. The Aquarium Rescue Unit, "The Calling". Available at www.audiophileimports.com, www.abstractlogix.com, http://aru.hittintheweb.com/index.php

3. Kodac Harrison, "Portraits and Passages". Available at www.kodacharrison.com

4. Richard Bicknell, "Baby lightning". Available at www.richardbicknell.com

5. Peter Vogl, "Let's Jam for Hard Rock".Available at  www.petervogl.com

6. The Xmissamericas, "So". Available at www.xmissamericas.com

New records in post production include:
1. Johnny Knox and High Test
2. Gwenn Hughes
3. Eric Hopper
4. Andrew Black and the Believers
5. Anthony Papamichael

Thanks for the work
Sean O'Rourke
www.seanorourke.com  (New "Peanut" (Saige Kaitlyn) pictures and video)


Frank Colon

Hi, Pam! Hi, Negro!

Always good to hear from you! By the way, my web site, www.frankcolon.com, is up again and shortly there'll be some free educational material posted on it! Your fabulous web site is an inspiration to me... please keep up the great work!

... Oh, and by the way, let me tell you something that happened to me while on tour with Gato Barbieri.... I use a contact mic on my cuica and therefore, test it at the band's sound check before the show. During one show in Los Angeles, when I came back from dinner, somebody who was apparently curious at how the cuica produced the unique sounds that I do, tried his hand at it while I was away from the stage. What I found was a broken instrument; the stick broken in 3 pieces and the skin warped beyond repair. Fortunately, I travel with the modern synthetic type of instrument and I have replacement parts for everything delicate that I take with me on the road! Still, I have to admit that I was in a fuming funk for the beginning of the show and I'm glad that I never found out who was the culprit, because I felt violated and I was on the warpath for blood! For their sake, I'm glad they remained annonimous! (www.kravmaga.bz)!!!

The point of this story is that, if you tour with your cuica or any other delicate instruments (such as tablas or berimbau or kalimba, etc.), please protect while you're away from the stage. Drums and percussion are fun to watch and listen to and play and many people just get caught up in the vibe and want to participate and share in the fun that they see you producing and one must be protective without having to be hostile. With me, when someone approaches my performance station with a question or tries to reach for an instrument, I stop them in their tracks NICELY and then give them a quick up-close demonstration and lesson, thank them for their good vibes and then politely move on.

... I love the fact that more and more people are playing drums and percussion. More people drumming means less people making war..... more people spreading love!

Best regards,

Frank Colon


Mitch Dorge

Hello all!

I trust everything is in order for a great summer! A special thanks goes out to all the kids from Gillis School in Tyndal and Edward Schreyer School in Beausejour, or ESS for their enthusiasm. I was fortunate to participate in the D.A.R.E. grad on the 18th. You guys ROCK!

D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and like T.A.D.D., (Teens Against Drinking and Driving) is a great program guided by really well grounded people to facilitate responsible thinking. This was the first D.A.R.E. event that I’ve been to and it was a blast. If anyone would like more information about D.A.R.E. or T.A.D.D., just contact me and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Of course, as usual, I must forward a thanks and a history trail as I’m always amazed at how these things come to pass. This goes back to my little buddy Norm St. Hilaire of which I met when I was teaching @ Major and Minor Music back in 1978. Norm, over the years became a wonderful friend. (I’ll spare the reader the friendship details) About a year ago or more, Norm had suggested to his brother in law, Shane Ferguson. Shane has a site, www.stayingalive.ca which is geared towards fire safety. Norm thought that my years with the Dummies would lend a bit of interest to some of the kids visiting the site so Shane put in the call. One thing led to the next and not only did I gain a valued friend, I became immersed in the project. Shane had invited Keith Thomas from M.A.S.T. to contribute his persona to the site and as we talked, Keith liked what I had to say and invited me to the T.A.D.D. conference in Gimili in October. Mrs. Staples, a teacher who happened to be at the conference also liked what I brought to the table and passed that information onto Constable Gil Berube, the person in charge of the D.A.R.E. program in Beausejour. The trail is a bit more complex with more players but you get the point. PS: Mrs. Chamberlin ROCKS!

YEO Houston! Unbelievable. A huge thanks goes out to Andy Schwartz from YEO Houston for an event well planned and executed. Andy brought the first YEO family event to the Houston chapter and his focus was to have an event that would leave a positive impression with the children and fellow YEOers. Andy made things real easy for me as he was on top of things and once again, I am left with evidence that YEO is a real forward thinking forerunner in the world of business.

Ben Debra double booked himself! So he gave me a call and asked if I could fill in for him at the McPhillips Street Station Casino on the 21st of June. I had an absolute blast. Everyone in the band played their hearts out and I was charged up for the night. I brought Ted Crawford with me as he’s been looking for people to play with and he sat in for a few tunes. The band accepted him with open arms and I thought he did an outstanding job. Ted has been studying with me for the last couple of years and you always get a glow when you watch one of your students shine. Thanks Ben for the call, I had a blast.

ManLab and everyone at www.stayingalive.ca have been working overtime to develop the new site game, The Great Escape. I’m not sure when it’s going to hit the site but it will be great when it gets there. We’ve also been working with Farpoint Films and have scripted an outstanding fire safety video with the characters from the site and a very special guest, Al Simmons. The plan is to get this video to every school in the country and then into the U.S. and then off to any and every country that has the interest. There’s nothing like it anywhere and we’re anxious to make it happen. I’d personally like to thank the parties that have come forward to help fund the video and send out an invitation to all who wish to help.

I’ll be at the Firefighters Burn Fund Burn Camp in August! I’m really looking forward to that one as the people organizing it are real keen at making this years camp top all others. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in on a few planning meetings and it sounds as though it truly is going to be an outstanding event.

I’m also going to be at this years T.A.D.D. conference! With a better understanding of what goes on, I plan to turn it on it’s ear this year. Keith gave me the invitation with full confidence that I’ll have some impact. Thanks Keith. I believe the conference will be at the end of September.

Charlie Redstar will be at the Academy Coffee House every second Monday throughout the summer so if you're looking for something to do on a Monday night, please come down and have a piece of pie and a coffee with us.

I’ll try to update more often as things come through but in the mean time. I always wonder if people are reading this stuff. If you’ve come this far, please drop me a line with a hello or a get a life or what ever. I’m just curious if people read this stuff.




Mike Botts

Hello there:

If you haven't gotten off your butt to go get tickets for the nearest Dan Fogelberg concert yet, you better start moving. We're already on the road with quite a few concerts under our belt and I can guarantee you will see a great show! The band is burnin' and getting tighter every day, the vocals are amazingly tight and Dan's singing is great, as usual. The shows seem to improve with every performance so, if you miss this chance to come out and catch one of Dan's concerts I think you may regret it. Besides, what else are you going to do, sit on the couch and watch reruns of Survivor?

I'm now starting to receive the new CD/CD-rom of my album, Adults Only. Since it includes a music video of "The Wait" in addition to the audio program, it takes a little more time and care to make. However, I will send out a cyber call as soon as the first shipment arrives. I will also occasionally give a brief update of how the shows are going on tour. Of course, it can never be as good as seeing a live concert so I hope to see you there.

Bye for now.   :-)
The best from Botts


Terry Santiel

Hey Pam, what's new. I'm on the road again on one of the biggest tours of the summer.  The Justin Timberlake / Christina Aguilera tour...



John JR Robinson

Well the new Stanley Clarke CD is out and I'm playing on two of the songs. One is called "Hair" and as always with Stanley, very funky! I just finished two songs with Dave Koz. This CD was produced by my longtime friend Jeff Lorber. In the rhythm section was bandmate Tony Maiden on guitar, Alex Al on bass and of course Jeff on keys. I've done several Dave Koz records and this one could be the best. I also just finished a new motion picture called "Hollywood Homicide" starring Harrison Ford. The composer was Alex Wurman. It was some of the most difficult reading I've ever experienced... On bass with me on the film was the great Lee Sklar. And finally, I flew back to Nashville to record four more songs for the upcoming Wynonna CD. This CD should be awesome. 'til next time...


Ricardo Cane

Ricardo Cane, senior member of the world-renowned rumba group Los Munequitos de Matanzas, died this morning at the Provincial Hospital in Matanzas. He had undergone a sudden operation for a "severe vascular accident" which entailed the amputation of his right leg. After post-surgical unconsciousness with assisted breathing, he briefly rallied, but ultimately lost the battle.

In Matanzas this morning there is a tremendous farewell in progress.


Cane was a incredible singer, and a member of Abakwa society for over 40 years. He played the drum called the "Bonko Enchemiya", the lead drum in the Abakwa drum section, in all Munequitos recordings.


Michael Fox

Hope all is well just touching base with you... Floyd Lee is playing many big dates this summer. We will, in addition, be playing many radio stations and interviews to kick off our new record. I also did a radio interview wed evening promoting my group MF2. It was on live 930 AM on the dial, they played 4 tracks and it was very well received. MF2 has been consigned to many Tower record outlets through out the 5 Boros and is doing nicely...

Regards Michael Fox


Gali Ricardo Sanchez

Dear Negro & Pam:

I wish to take a minute and explain my three year absence from the music scene. My career was going great with regular gigs with Kim Waters, Maysa and Grainger. I was even turning down some high profile gigs. However, after years of hard work and help from many many friends, I was hit with some devastating news. I have prostate cancer that was undetected and had reached the point where surgery was not an option. In fact, I was told I had about six to nine months to live and so it was best I get my life in order and say my good byes.

Well, many wonderful things happened. A benefit concert was put on to help me with medical expenses. My dear friend Walfredo Reyes Jr. dropped everything and attended along with former Santana vocalist Alex Ligertwood. Angela Stribling came down from New York City with Najee and Baltimore's Greg Grainger of Whitney Houston / Accoustic Alchemy. Other friends such as Tom Principato, Global Function and Mama Jama volunteered their time. My friend Carlos Santana even sent autographed original artwork to help the cause. Daniel de Los Reyes wasn't able to attend but he always checks in with me when he's in town. So do my brothers Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow. It is wonderful to be a musician!

Through my treatment, I had the financial and spiritual support of my endorsement companies. No matter what, I will always be indebted to LP, Sabian, Vater, Audix, and Protechtor Cases. They never forgot me even though I was no longer able to represent their incredible products.

Dom Famularo is right. Drummers are special. We aren't in competition with each other like other musicians. We are supportive and a close knit family.

I was lucky to be accepted in a special program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland. Through a unique treatment program adding and deleting hormones, I am still alive. In fact, other than some substantial weight gain from the treatment, I look pretty good. The unfortunate trade off for this treatment is my loss of muscle mass and coordination. That means as long as I live, I will never be a drummer again.

That is the bad news. The good news is I should be around for a good number of years in reasonable health. So much so that I visited Cuba a number of times, fell in love and married as you read in the last Drums On The Web.

My adjustment to life outside of music has been long and difficult. That is why it has been a long time since many have heard from me. It was in a shortsighted way, very depressing. It took a while to adjust, to say good bye to instruments and sounds I has spent a lifetime to find. But life is the better choice. Carlos Santana pointed out to me that even though I will never play again, I will always be a musician. Still, sometimes I feel like my heart has been ripped from my body. When I stop feeling sorry for myself, I remember Walfredo Jr. and Sr., Negro, Danny, Greg, Raul, Karl, Dennis Chambers, Billy Johnson, Jim Capaldi, the artist relations people at Sabian, LP, Vater, Protechtor. I remember how it felt to jam on stage with Steve Smith, Peter Erskine, Virgil Donati and Smitty Smith in Columbus, Ohio. I remember signing my name on the LP endorser's wall and seeing my name along with Tito Puente, Armando Peraza, Giovani Hidalgo and others. I even remember being humbled by Gio at the NAMM Show in L.A., like virtually every percussionist is. I'll find a new niche somewhere and work as hard at that as I did with drumming.

Again, thanks to my many industry friends as well as my friends and fans who wondered where I was.

I understand what Negro means when he says "practice." He means work hard. It means success when you are playing music, fighting cancer, or changing your life.

See ya around.
Gali Ricardo Sanchez


John JR Robinson

... As always, I've been chasing a 21 month around the house which keeps me quite busy. Jack shows unbelievable signs of musical genius yet I don't want to push him too fast.

I just returned from Nashville where I completed Wynonna's new CD which will be on Curb Records. It's produced by longtime friend and fellow rhythm section member Dann Huff. Dann and I probably played on over 50 albums in the 80's together. While I was there I also played on three songs for Carolyn Dawn Johnson on Arista Records.

This recent weekend I just played a benefit with the David Foster Band for CapCure at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. CapCure is an organization to help find a cure for prostate cancer. One of the artists that played with us was Josh Groban whose CD has now sold over 6 million units. I was honored to have played drums on Josh's PBS TV special. The highlight of the weekend was that I was asked to play in the celebrity golf tournament. It was held at Shadow Creek Golf Club as a fund raiser for prostate cancer. I was paired up with Al Michaels [from ABC Monday Night Football] and Mark Brenneman [the head pro at Shadow Creek]. Al and I were extremely fortunate that we had a "ringer" in our group! We took fourth place. Not bad for this rookie golfer!

This week I start a new CD with Luis Miguel for Warner Brothers International. This will be the sixth album I have done with Luis. He's a very gifted and talented singer. This CD will feature Nathan East on bass and Robbie Buchanan on keys.

Next week I travel to Memphis to do a benefit for St. Judes Children's Hospital. This again will be with the David Foster All Star Band which includes Dean Parks [Steely Dan], Greg Phillinganes [Stevie Wonder] and Nathan East [Eric Clapton].

'Til next time...


Roger Squitero

Hey Pam,

I finally finished my tour with Luther Vandross. I'm now working on the workshop of "Carnivale", Radio City's new spring show opening May 03'.

I have a CD of a "live" gig my wife,{Saundra Santiago} did that I produced. The band is myself, Marc Egan, Oscar Hernandez and Manny Moriera...

peace, Roger squitero


Brian Stephens

Hey Everyone,

A couple of weeks ago, I sent you guys my first update email of the year and told you something big was coming up. Ok, now I am ready to spill the beans on TWO big things. First off, if you will slide by your local bookstore/newsstand and pick up a copy of the June issue of Modern Drummer magazine, on page 23 you will find a picture of my smiling mug and a very well written article by Harriet Schwartz. Over the Christmas holidays, Harriet interviewed me for Modern Drummer magazine, and I have been waiting for it to actually appear in print before saying anything. The article, entitled "The Heart of A Musician", really encapsulates all the things I do as a professional musician, producer, educator, and studio owner. (Thanks Harriet!) And if you will flip over to page 133 in the same issue, I am also included in an ad for Pro-Mark drumsticks. For those of you who don't have access to the magazine, a newsstand, or any money, you can also check this article out online at www.ModernDrummer.com

Now, onto the second piece of big news. This one is still in progress, but I will go ahead and let you in on it. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Los Angeles asking me to write a tune for a new 20th Century Fox / Searchlight motion picture called "Le Divorce". So, I then call friend / keyboardist / writer Tom Grose to see if he would like to work on it with me. Two days later, Tom and I are in the studio hacking away at this song. What we ended up with is a great tune called "For All I Know". The demo has been submitted to the movie studio for final approval and we will be completing full production on the song in the next week or so

The cast of "Le Divorce" includes Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Glenn Close, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Bebe Neuwirth, and Matthew Modine. It was directed by James Ivory (A Room With A View, The Remains of The Day) and is due out in theaters in August.

Keep us in your prayers on this one. It is a big opportunity, one that I have been working toward for quite some time. There are already some other opportunities that have come about as a result of this song. Once everything is in place and completed, I will let you guys know about it.

A third piece of news is that I begin filming for my first instructional DVD this week. With a working title of "The Anatomy of A Session Drummer", this DVD will cover the entire process that a recording session drummer goes through in the studio, coming up with drum parts for songs, working with loops / drum programming, and the interaction with the other players on a recording session. It will be packed with all sorts of information that any drummer can use in getting ready to go into the studio like working with a click, prepping your equipment for the session, and mental preparation prior to entering the studio.

I believe it will be a good companion piece to my audio book, "Stickin' It Out – The Anatomy of A Professional Drummer", which is available through the BrianStephens.com website. If you have not picked up a copy, swing by my site and order one today. But, getting back to the 'studio drummer' DVD, look for it to feature a who's who of Atlanta's finest session players. The DVD should be available through my website just in time for Christmas 2003

Keep an eye on my "Calendar" for live gig dates and look to my "News" page for updates on current recording session / album projects I am involved in. As I said in my last email, we are in the process of revamping my website. Look for a new site with all new content in the coming weeks

And lastly, remember to look for my monthly column in Performer magazine. This month's topic is "Sound Sculpting with Distortion". The magazine is available at your local music stores / record shops or online at www.PerformerMag.com

That should do it for this month. Thanks for reading and for all your support!

Brian Stephens

Freelance Drummer/Percussionist,
Record Producer, and Music Educator



Sean O'Rourke


I will be hitting with Mother's Finest at The Atlanta Dogwood Festival on April 13th at 6:30. I will also be with Kodac Harrison on April 19th at the Defoors Center for his cd release party. The new Howard Tate record that I drummed on will be released on RCA records. I also just finished a record for Rockabilly badass guitar player Johnny Knox. I did another instructional cd for Peter Vogl as well.

I hope things are well


Babatunde Olatunji

Nigerian Drummer Olatunji Dies at 75

.c The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Groundbreaking Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, who helped introduce the power and intricacy of African music in the United States, has died. He was 75.

Olatunji died Sunday at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, a nursing supervisor said. Olatunji, who had been admitted March 25, lived at the Esalen Institute in nearby Big Sur.

The cause of death was not released by the hospital, but The New York Times quoted a daughter of Olatunji as saying he died of complications from advanced diabetes.

His 1959 album, "Drums of Passion,'' was the first album of African drumming recorded in stereo in an American studio. It introduced a generation to African music, said world music critic J. Poet of San Francisco.

"He planted a seed that gave birth to the whole interest in African music in the United States,'' Poet said. "Before him the drum was always kind of mixed into the background. After Olatunji the drum just really came blasting out at you.''

Olatunji's deft slaps on the djembe and junjun drums infused American black culture with a sense of artistic pride in traditional African music, Poet said.

Olatunji went on to found the Center for African Culture, based in Harlem, in the late 1960s. He taught drummers and other artists, such as John Coltrane. Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart co-founded the musical troupe Planet Drum with Olatunji and credits him as a major influence.

"We spoke the same language,'' Hart said. "It was about rhythm, the drums, and he was the godfather of this whole movement of communal drumming.''

Olatunji was born in Ajido, a fishing and trading village. His band of drummers, singers and dancers evoked both the village's music and its masquerades, with figures dancing in elaborate costumes.

Olatunji studied at New York University and soon formed an African-style ensemble that became his full-time occupation.

Hart recalled Olatunji's commanding voice and rhythms as the base for his popularity. Hart said the feeling he got from first hearing Olatunji's music has stayed with him.

"Drums of Passion combined drums, vocals and then brass - the hot syncopation of New York City. He was an American by then,'' Hart said. "From the moment I heard it in 1959, I've been chasing that feeling for 40 years.''

Hart credits Olatunji with bridging cultural music gaps after bringing his drum music west.

"He got us white folks into the magical music of Africa. It was irresistible,'' he said.

Olatunji's most recent album, "Love Drum Talk,'' was released in 1997 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.


Kenn Moutenot

Dearest Pam,

Hope everything is great with you and think about your great work often. Have been busy here in the studio with percussionists like Patato, Steve Berrios, Rafael Cruz, along with many other world class musicians and composers.

I am now the musical director of "Eumir Deodato's Band" playing in his band as the drummer now and following in the shoes of his former drummers Mr. Billy Cobham, Mr. Steve Gadd really is an honor and pleasure.

We are leaving for Africa next week for a concert tour, war permitting, and had much success in 2002 with many european concerts that had standing ovations nightly. You may see some of the video concert clips @ www.song3.com of course...

By clicking here you can get an excerpt from a magazine article containing stories about our life on the road. Thought you might enjoy it.

Miss you and sending thoughts and prayers,
Looking forward to things in the future together.
Peace & love to you and now off to africa.

Kenn Moutenot


Michael Fox

Hi Pam... Floyd Lee's new record will be out in a couple of weeks titled Ain't Doin Nothin wrong. This a follow up to Mean Blues, our first record, which sold 40,000 copies...

Regards Michael Fox


Alvino Bennett

Hey Pam,

Glad to hear everything is alright. No longer doing Sunday nites, we all are doing so many other projects now. I've been playing and recording with Jason Sinay. I've also been doing some recording and production stuff. I just got back from some dates with Dave Mason. That was a lot of fun...



Terry Santiel

Hey Pam, I just got on the Justin Timberlake tour... I started rehearsals today. The tour goes out from May till August...


Ernie Durawa

Hi Pam,

Short note to let you know my new CD is finally out. Check out the Website. Los Jazz Vatos

Hope you're digging L A more than NY.

All The Best,
Ernie Durawa


Wally Gator Watson

Hi Pam, I just got back from a wonderful tour to Australia! It was my first time down under. I was playing with R&B legend, Wilson Pickett. We were on the bill with Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. The shows were great, the people were great, and I got to hold a Koala and feed a Kangaroo too.

Man what a great place. We played in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth. The trip was very long, but worth every second.

I was to come back home to NYC, but mother nature saw things a bit differently. There was a blizzard which got me stranded in LA for a day. I then went on to the University of Idaho for a week of clinics at the Lionel Hampton Jazz festival. They put on a wonderful tribute to Lionel Hampton and Ray Brown.

March 1st I was in New Brunswick, NJ with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, March 8 th I will be in Welland Ontario, Canada with Sandra Reaves Phillips & the Late Great Ladies of Blues & Jazz, and then it's off to Florida with the Cab Calloway Orchestra. I would like to invite your readers to visit my website www.wallygator.net to see if I might be performing near them. I would love to see thier faces.

Oh, I almost forgot! I have finished a new CD with my group "A Trio of Four." It is a memorial CD dedicated to the memory of Lionel Hampton put together by the former Lionel Hampton Quartet. It features Kuni Mikami on piano, Christian Fabian on bass, and yours truly on drums and vocals. It is a CAP record release.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Take care and God bless.
Wally Gator Watson


Gali Ricardo Sanchez

I'm very happy to say that I just made it back from La Habana and have tied the Cuban knot. My new wife Yahumara Sierra Mesa de Sanchez and I were wed on February 26 in Havana. Since the communist state does not recognize formal religion, we were married in a civil, socialist ceremony with only ourselves and 3 other people present. I was read the rights and expectations of a Cuban husband in a socialist state. There was no ring ceremony or "you may now kiss the bride." But I do have a license that is the coolest thing you ever saw with stamps and ribbons and seals and fancy signatures.

Pics to come in a bit (I hope). Lots of stories for IMs. I'm back, happier than ever and healthier than a long long time.

Gali Ricardo Sanchez (Mr. Yahumara)


Rick Latham

Greetings All,

I actually have had many of you asking what's been up lately because I haven't sent much news in a while, which for me is surprising, HA! It's always nice to know that there are folks out there that do like hearing the latest. I did see many of you at NAMM but for those I didn't run in to here's the scoop.

Things have been going well and at the moment I'm very busy writing and playing / producing all the music for a new ABC TV special to air in April and I recently wrote and produced some music for a TV special "African American Film Makers" still airing around the country this month and next.

I'm scheduled to do some clinics around the country in April and May and planning more later in the year. Watch for new educational stuff forthcoming.

"Rick Latham and The Groove Doctors" are moving along with gigs etc. and some good news on label interest. I also recently played on some special music for the Daredevil DVD that will be coming out soon.

For those of you in the L.A. area. I'll be doing my own trio gig on Saturday afternoons starting on March 8th (continuing every Saturday after this) at the "Village Cafe" in Woodland Hills. This will be a cool thing featuring some great musicians so stop by if you are in the area.

Things are cool, just not enough time to keep everybody as up to date as usual but, that's a good thing I guess.

Hope to talk to you all soon and thanks again for staying in tune!!!!!!!!



Mongo Santamaria

Mongo Santamaria, influental Latin jazz percussionist, dies in Miami at 85

Mongo Santamaria, a popular and influential Latin jazz percussionist, died Saturday at a Miami hospital following a stroke. He was 85.

Born in Havana, Santamaria performed in Mexico and arrived in New York in 1950, just as musicians began to experiment with the fusion of jazz and Latin. Santamaria recorded his own albums, including Yambu and Mongo, while performing alongside Cal Tjader, a jazz vibraphonist based in San Francisco.

In 1963, Santamaria scored a top-10 hit with his version of Herbie Hancock's jazz-funk classic, Watermelon Man. He also wrote the song Afro Blue, which John Coltrane later performed and made famous.

Santamaria began his career by playing popular nightclubs in his native Havana. He later toured Mexico with a dance team.

Throughout his career, Santamaria played with a cadre of well-known musicians, including Chick Corea, Tito Puente, Ray Vega and Sonny Fortune.


Steve Smith


2002 has been quite a busy and productive year for myself and the members of Vital Information. My DVD, "Steve Smith: Drumset Technique and History of the U.S. Beat," is finally finished and in the stores. It is the culmination of years of study, research, practice and experience and was more work than any one project I have ever undertaken. The project was conceived for the DVD format and fills two discs with a total of 4 1/2 hours of material. For more info go to: www.hudsonmusic.com

Also at the Hudson Music website (hudsonmusic.com) is my Autumn Clinic Tour Diary. I kept a daily diary of my October U.S. clinic tour. Zildjian, Sonor, Remo, Vic Firth, Shure, DW pedals all sponsored the tour and I went to many music stores and drum shops around the U.S. This was the best clinic tour I have ever done, the audiences and the shops were welcoming and enthusiastic.

Vital Information had a busy year touring in the U.S. and Canada. The members of the band also toured with other artists this year, there was never a dull moment! We all toured with Bill Evans in the summer as the Soul Insiders. Tom Coster continued on with Bill and toured Europe in the Autumn and then Tom also toured Russia with Billy Cobham. Frank Gambale toured extensively with the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Frank and I recorded and released GHS 3, the third in a series of trio recording that feature Frank and I along with Stu Hamm on bass. Baron Browne and I went on the road with Buddy's Buddies and even recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. In 2003 Tone Center Records will release two separate CDs from those sessions: "Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies -- Very Live at Ronnie Scott's -- Set One and Set Two." Buddy's Buddies also features the fantastic playing of Steve Marcus, Andy Fusco and Mark Soskin.

I toured the U.S. and Asia with the Indian / Jazz fusion group Summit featuring Zakir Hussain, George Brooks, Kai Eckhardt and Fareed Haque. Playing with Summit is an incredible inspiration and learning experience for me. The band will release it's first CD in 2003. On December 30 we recorded a track called "Mad Tea Time" that will appear on an "as yet unnamed All-Star Drummer CD" for the Magna Carta label. The track features Zakir and I playing with the band, each of us soloing and then playing a drum duet. The compilation CD, which also features Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Rod Morgenstein and others will be released later this year.

The group I play with in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Steve Smith / Mike Zilber Quartet, will release a CD on Blue Jay Records in 2003, "Reimagined Vol 1: Jazz Standards." This is a straight-ahead acoustic jazz recording with Mike Zilber's inventive reworking of some classic jazz standards. We already have a Canadian Jazz Festival tour booked for late June. This tour will also feature sax legend Dave Liebman as our Special Guest.

Vital Information has an extensive European Tour booked for February and March. The details will be posted on www.vitalinformation.com I will be keeping a Vital Information Europa Tour Diary starting in Mid-February on the www.hudsonmusic.com website.

We also will be playing on the West Coast of the U.S. after our European trip, Yoshi's in Oakland on March 11/12 and Catalina's in Hollywood March 13-16.

I'll be performing with Summit in April and then Vital Information will tour the U.S. East Coast / Midwest in May. This Autumn I'll be back in Europe for a Sonor clinic tour.

I did an indepth interview with Bill Milkowski for and upcoming Modern Drummer cover story and I'll also be playing at the 2003 Modern Drummer weekend, May 17/18!

I'll be posting all of my upcoming clinic and touring dates on www.vitalinformation.com

Thanks for the support and hope to see you on tour in 2003.



Eddie Tudori

Hi Everyone,

I'm writing to ask a favor. Oh really! You ask. not Eddie, a favor? OK, what is it this time?

Well, since you asked...

TRAP/ Gifted Records is releasing our first CD. The CD is entitled Trieana. Trieana Moon is one of my students at the Ojai Enrichment Center. She has Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that happens in one in twenty thousand births. She has developmental delays coupled with some physical deficit. In spite of this is the fact that she is absolutely brilliant, soulful and powerful as a singer/ piano player, which will become obvious when you hear her debut CD. Some of you already know her, some of you played on the CD, all of you will agree that this, her first effort, is outstanding. Dion Cornejo, a young man with Downs Syndrome and another of my students from the Y-Spirit program in Pasadena also appears on the CD.

Gifted Records is presented by TRAP as a vehicle to provide professional recording for people with disabilities. I am eternally grateful, if it was not for the generosity of so many of my friends, there would be no record company and these folks may otherwise never have this kind of opportunity. So many people with disabilities are truly talented and deserving. It is my intention, with your help to create this environment for many more folks like Trieana. All of the proceeds of this CD and all the CDs we record in the future will go to support various programs for the disabled.

The favor is this; since I'm promoting the CD on my own, my best chance to make it happen is word of mouth. My friend Ralph Oleski has an Internet company called Planet CD. He has waved his fees entirely and offered to handle the sales for us through his site. Would you please consider linking Planet CD to your web sites (with this note) or a note of your own? And for those of you who don't have web sites, would you please forward this to everyone on your e-mail lists. You can cut and paste whatever portion of the note you like. The point is to get people to Planet CD where they can purchase the CD.

With my deepest gratitude and respect,


Rick Latham

Hi Everyone,

Just a short update to say that I hope to see many of you at this years Winter NAMM show January 16-19 in Anaheim.

I'm very excited because of several new things. As you know, this is the first year that CDs are now available for my "Advanced Funk Studies". I'll be signing copies and giving away free CDs to a few lucky winners of several trivia contests. Please look for me as you are making your rounds. My books are being distributed worldwide by Carl Fisher. CDs for "Contemporary Drumset Techniques" coming soon!

I will be on hand at the Istanbul (Mehmet) Cymbal booth to talk with folks about these exceptional cymbals that I am very happy to be playing now. Why play imitations when the real thing is available? "The Original, Old School, Hand Made Cymbals From Istanbul Mehmet"!!!!!! (I made that one up) not bad if I do say so myself.

I'll also be stopping by my other great companies including DW, Evans, Pro-Mark, Real-Feel, Sennheiser and Warner Bros. so please drop in and say Hi and don't forget to look for surprise performances at the nightly "hangs".

In Closing, my web site has been going through some renovation so please be sure to check it (below) for many new updates, movies, demos etc.


I look forward to seeing you at NAMM, HOT NAMM!!!!!!!!!!!


PS. 2003 newsletter and new educational material coming soon and "Rick Latham and The Groove Doctors" New CD now available on-line exclusively http://www.groovedoctorsjazz.com/news.htm


Mickey Finn

T Rex Percussionist Mickey Finn Dies

Mickey Finn, a bongo player with the 1970s glam rock band T Rex, has died. He was 56.

The percussionist, who took over leadership of the band when it reformed after the death of front man Marc Bolan in 1977, died Saturday in a south London hospital, the band's manager Barry Newby said Monday. No cause of death was given, but news reports said Finn had suffered from kidney and liver problems.

"With regret, the band are sad to announce the passing of their dear friend and leader Mickey Finn,'' Newby said in a statement on the band's Web site. "His memory will always be in our hearts.''

After stints with the bands Hapshash and Coloured Coat, Finn teamed up with charismatic singer-songwriter Bolan in 1969 when T Rex's original bongo player Steve Took left the band.

He was Bolan's sidekick as he progressed from hippie sage to glam rock guru, and performed on hits such as "Ride A White Swan'' and "Children Of The Revolution'' and is credited with giving the band its distinctive "bebop'' sound.

Finn quit the group 1975 when their star began to wane and went on to form his own band.

But in 1997, after band members received a rapturous reception at a public performance to commemorate Bolan's death, the group reformed with Finn, Paul Fenton - another original band member - and several new musicians. They performed all over Europe and were particularly popular in Germany. The group recorded an album, "Renaissance,'' in 2000.

Funeral details were not immediately available. There was no immediate word on survivors.


Armand Zildjian

Cymbal Legend Armand Zildjian Dead At 81

Armand Zildjian, President and Chairman of the Zildjian Company died Thursday at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 81.

Armand was born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1921. He attended local schools including Thayer Academy and Colgate University until called to serve in the Philippines in 1942. Upon his return, he entered the family business, the world’s largest cymbal manufacturer and the oldest company in America. An amateur musician himself, Zildjian said he felt privileged to have been born into a musical dynasty, which dates back to 1623. He was appointed President of Zildjian two years before his father’s death, Armand took over the role of family patriarch in 1977.

Zildjian was known for his charismatic personality and warm personal relationship with drummers. He hand selected cymbals for such drummers as Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Jo Jones and many others and matched cymbals for the Boston Symphony and leading orchestras around the world. An authority in cymbal sound, he created new product innovations in response to the ever-changing needs of musicians and remained deeply involved in the operation of the company until his death.

Zildjian received numerous awards including an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. He was a member of the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, and an inductee of Guitar Center’s Rock Walk in Hollywood. Most recently he received Modern Drummer Magazine Editors Achievement Award.

In addition to his wife, Andra, he leaves four children Wendy Mets, Craigie, Debbie & Robert Zildjian, three stepchildren Kristy Thompson, Mark & Peter Field, eight grandchildren Paula Charles, Cady & Emily Zildjian-Bickford, Samantha Zildjian, Dakota and Victoria Thompson, Kathryn and Spencer Field, two great grandchildren, Ian and Gwen Charles, several cousins, nieces and nephews and a brother Robert.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Armand Zildjian Percussion Scholarship, c/o Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 and the Zildjian Family Opportunity Fund, c/o Percussive Arts Society, 701 NW Ferris Ave., Lawton, OK 73507.


Van Romaine

Hi Pam, merry x-mas!!! I hope you're well, it's been a long time! Just off tour with Enrique Iglesias and glad to be home...


Ralph Humphrey

Dear Pam and El Negro and friends at Conundrum,

I would like to wish all of you a very happy holiday season, which includes being safe, being kind, being giving and being hopeful.

As drummers, we are in the fortunate position to be able to share ourselves with the world and bring smiles and joy to all who care to listen, and even join in. That, in itself, is a blessing that we need to always be aware of.

See you in the coming year.

Best wishes and Happy New Year.

Ralph Humphrey

PS I will be doing a clinic at the IAJE convention in Toronto, Sat. Jan 11, 2003 at 4pm. Hope to see you there. I also just finished a recording with Babaghanoush, featuring Jimmy Mahlis, Jerry Watts and Andy Suzuki. Hopefully, it will become available in some form in the new year. Watch for it.


Sean O'Rourke

Hey Pam, Sup?

I just did the new Elvis Costello song for Producer Jerry Ragavoy. It's going to be on the new Howard Tate record. Rick Marotta is on one track as well. I did the rest of the record.

I also just did a hit with bassist Chuck Rainey. I've enclosed a picture of us on stage.


I've completely redone my audio section with a discography and live page as well as a music for film and television page



Ricky Sebastian

Hi Pam and Happy Holidays. I hope you're doing well. Things are going great here. I just recorded "Los Hombres Calientes" upcoming cd (Negro is on a couple of tunes). as well as a cd featuring Phil Woods & Herbie Mann that came out great.

I just got back from Russia on a tour with a pianist named Andrei Kondakov. Man, was that a trip, they are still living in the industrial age in the 50's. Anyway, gotta run - have a good one.



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