Pa Rum Pum Pro Drum

Ho, ho, ho! and a roomful of drums. It was time again for the Pro Drum Shop annual Christmas party this past Tuesday, December 15. Hollywood Drum has expressed sincere affection for the Pro Shop before, and we’re not about to stop the music now. There shall be no “Where Is The Love,” or “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Regrettably, I was unavailable to attend and raise a Styrofoam cup to owners Stan and Jerry myself this year, so the lovely Jason Sutter graciously served as our guest reporter on this one.

This year’s fete held added significance as 2009 marked the beloved shop’s 50th anniversary. According to Sutter, attendance suggested that this bit of sentiment was not lost on L.A. drummers, with cars “pouring out to the street,” and people “filtering” through the front door. Not surprisingly, it seems fun was had and good cheer spread by all.

So, I figuratively raise my not-so-proverbial Styrofoam cup to thank Stan and Jerry for all they do for our drum community, and wish everyone joyful reflection on 2009 and happiness ahead for 2010.

Thanks to Sutter for his colorful coverage.

Steve Krugman

Hittin’: Nate Wood @ Seven Grand


One of my favorite things to do on a free night in L.A. is check out live music. Right up there with cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. This is the first of an on-going series of mini-reviews of shows around town that will be posted here in the news blog: Hittin’. We’ll still be doing occasional feature reviews, but I wanted a place to quickly upload some pics and unload some fresh impressions. There are worse things to purge on the morning after.

The Drummer
I admit to being late to the party concerning Nate Wood. It was only recently that I was exposed to his brilliant drumming on Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan’s stunning 2009 release, Red Hail. With performances like that and capacity crowds like the one at Seven Grand for his band Kneebody in downtown L.A. last night, it may be the party has only begun.


The Scene
The downtown scene is gaining its legs—and a soul. Though of L.A., Kneebody sounds like a New York band. The music is avant-garde, stone-cold hip, and snotty; seamlessly melding post bop and drum n bass. Seeing the show amidst the tension of urban decay and renaissance—in the mounted-deer-heads gone wild, swank whiskey-lodge setting of Seven Grand—made perfect sense. A Hollywood or Valley jazz club would not quite have synchronized the experience just so. The second floor club on W 7th St. elevated it.


The Band
If the elongated room, obtrusive pool tables, and human mass made the group challenging to see, the sound from the stage was unmistakable. Perhaps baffling at times, but unmistakable. These guys have been together awhile, and the precision, compositional density, and conceptual sophistication were testament. Kneebody speaks its own language—with native codes and syntax—that while often cryptic in structure, requires no interpreter to understand. You don’t necessarily need to speak fluent Mongolian to recognize that it is a fully developed, nuanced and emotive language. Pro players (out in force) and casual music-lovers alike surrendered to the modulating rhythms, whirling melodies, and obscured forms; translating complex to simple, strange to familiar, head-scratching to ass-shaking.


The Drummer. Again.
Wood played a lead role in the dialogue on stage. His alternately fluid and halting, always inventive and inspired timekeeping shaped the motion and direction of the whole. He managed frenetic ideas and energy with light, relaxed, and controlled touch. His mostly de-tuned Gretsch drums and dark, trashy cymbals complimented his earthy flow. On more breakbeat oriented grooves, he would mute a sizzle cymbal with a crash, place an 8″ splash on the snare, small crash on the floor, and a tam tam on the rack. His approach with this setup was fascinating—a drum n bass style that is a mix of dub, Stewart Copeland, and Elvin Jones. No doubt, Wood is a wildly endowed and original musician.

Wood is currently preparing a move from L.A. to N.Y.C. Still, I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing much more of him.

Steve Krugman

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