I know it’s been a while, but as you can imagine, it’s been quite hectic post Secret Chiefs 3′s North America Tour and Stone Residency, but I’m writing to let everyone know that I’ve created a facebook artist page, for those of you into the whole social media thing. I’ll be posting daily on this page in order to better communicate with fans. Feel free to add me on there and as always, I hope that you are in good spirits.
I will try to be brief since we are in the midst of the Secret Chiefs 3 North American, but recently I was asked to film a instrunctional video for the website MyMusicMasterclass.com, which as of today has gone Public! I’ve never done one of these before, but I have to say it was quite fun, even with Ari Hoenig watching me as I was taping! All in all, I think the video came out pretty well despite the fact that my macbook died and couldn’t be used to play all the music samples that myself and Stacy O’Dell created. The video is available for both download & purchasefor anyone interested in hearing my approach to creating somewhat complex grooves and my practice routines for playing blast beats. It’s definitely worth a gander!
As some of you may know, the Secret Chiefs 3 tour has begun, with our second show taking place tonight in Seattle, WA, at The Crocodile. Last night’s show at The Sunset was incredibly fun and nerve-wracking all at the same time, but technical issues and brain-farts aside, I think it was a fun show and a lot of fun was had by all. I think it helped to get some of the cobwebs kicked and nerves dealt with.
Well, I would write more, but soundcheck is upon us! But for now, please check out my videos and I hope that you enjoy them and find them useful! Here are links for those of you interested:
Recently, I’ve been getting more incoming requests for lessons, so I’ve felt it necessary to go ahead and state something publically on the matter. Yes, I am currently taking private students for drum lessons, usually based out of my Astoria, Queens practice space. I’m taking in students anywhere from Beginner to Advanced, with the current rate being $60 per session (minimum of 1Hr), so anyone interested in the core mechanics of playing drums, or learning how to play a specific style of music, or anyone looking for more advanced concepts or learning my particular approach to playing music are welcome. I will soon have a setup in which I will be able to do full-on Skype lessons as well, but that will go live once I get the proper equipment I need. In the meantime, anyone outside of New York City or the US who would like to take a Skype lesson/lecture, we can set that up as well. The skype lessons do not have to pertain to just drumset playing; anyone interested in learning my approach to Composition, Arranging, Recording, Gigging and anything else that pertains to music as well, are welcome.
In the meantime, please enjoy this video from my YouTube channel, a silly little ditty I captured with my iPhone one day before practice with Resolution 15:
As always, I wish you all a safe and happy week and until next time, be well!
Recently, Cluster Films has released a interview with Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3/Mr. Bungle) from this past Secret Chiefs 3 Tour in Europe. The video was taken at our last concert in Paris at FGO Barbara and features some really nice HD shots of the band. The audio, I think, came out rather nicely, but go ahead and see for yourself.
So it’s been a while since I’ve last updated this site, let alone, wished everyone a happy new year! In a short amount of time quite a lot has taken place, so I will do my best to be as succinct as possible, though we all know that this could very well be quite long!
As of this writing, several great things have taken place. In order of them taking place, here goes:
1) While many of my fellow musicians were attending the NAMM show this year in Anaheim, I was in Los Angeles recording with Trey Spruance of Secret Chiefs 3 (Mr. Bungle, Faith No More), for the upcoming SC3 album. We recorded some new Holy Vehm material, inspired by L. R. Hubbard’s AHistory of Man. I also recorded some drums for other various SC3 tunes to fall in line with the other ‘satellite groups, ‘ as well as some older material which will now hopefully see the light of day. We still are planning another recording session for even more material, so I’ll keep you all posted on that and hopefully next time I will have the ability to videotape the session! As for Holy Vehm, I recorded roughly 90 minutes of material, including a 10min drum solo which may hopefully see the light of day! I think now the next goal for me would be to actually hang with John Merryman!
2) On January 15th, one of my metal bands, Resolution 15, released it’s newest album, Svaha! It’s been some time coming, especially after our successful kickstarter campaign, but our album has finally been full realized and is now available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and any where else really. I’m happy that some of my music made it on to the album and I think the guys did an awesome job of making those songs come to life (Mr. Dark, Overdriven Maxim mvt.2, and The Current, all songs that were written in 2008/2009!). As I’m writing this now, we have also signed on with PR firm Adrenaline to help spread the word about what Resolution 15 is up to. Though this album is done, we are not resting on our laurels! We are currently setting a new goal for ourselves of attempting to record no less than 3 albums this year! Personally, i have enough “metal” material to fill this out, but some of this music is reserved for my own solo project (which I will touch on later this year, lets just say its in planning and I have some serious players who will be making appearances on it), but we will be going with only the songs that are Violin appropriate, as well as some new compositions by Earl Maneein and some by our new bassist, Mike Bendy, and possibly some from our dear friend Joel Lambdin! Either way, expect to hear some “new” music soon, but in the meantime, grab a copy of Svaha online or at any of our upcoming shows!
3) Leading up to the session, I officially signed a contract for my very first cymbal endorsement! I’ve never had one of these, but I’m now honored to say officially and publicly that I am currently a proud endorser of Bosphorus Cymbals! I was approached by them at the behest of Ari Hoenig after his recommendation, as well as having discovered some of my videos and this website. Once they approached me with a proposal, I quickly said ‘Yes!’ I’ve been playing on their Gold Series crashes for some time now and I absolutely love them. If any of you have seen my facebook post I made sometime ago complaining about my cymbal graveyard, you know that I have gone through roughly 30 cymbals in the last 4 years of playing hard rock and metal. My bosphorus 19″ Full Crash has survived many double bills with the bands Hung and Resolution 15, with not even a scratch to speak of. I’ve recently placed my first order with Bosphorus, filling out my setup with a full drum set rig for pop/rock/metal. This setup got it’s first big show recently with the next item that I will bring up, but let me say for now that these cymbals sound Tremendous! Beautiful, articulate, expressive, very easy to control but also easy to pull volume out of without needing to bash. I will also get the chance to record with them this week as I will be in the studio with Imperial Triumphant recording a track for them. I couldn’t be happier with them right now, and I’m grateful to Emrah and all the guys at Bosphorus for making this dream a reality!
3) Last on my list, I’m happy to say that my cymbals got a very nice public debut at the recent concert of Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz for their 50th Anniversary celebration! It was an amazing concert, full of special guests such as Alex de Castro, Ismael Miranda, Alfredo de la Fe, and Viki Vimari, plus many more. We performed in El Coliseo de Puerto Rico, which both Richie and Bobby inaugurated, for a very enthusiastic audience in a severely packed arena. This particular occasion was special for me, not only getting to be a part of something of this magnitude (for those of you who don’t know, Richie and Bobby have sold countless Gold records over the years, won several Grammy awards, and were members of the famed Fania All Stars, just list a couple of accolades), but also that for me this is a family affair. Some people may be aware, but not many, that Bobby Cruz is my grandfather, but also involved in the concert were my Mom, Cynthia Cruz Ortiz and my step-father, Victor “Papo” Ortiz, and my aunt, Tania Ortiz, all of whom performed in the orchestra (My mom and aunt being backup vocalists and my step-father as Musical Director). It also reminded me of when my late father, Ken Grohowski Sr., performed with Richie and Grandpa at their farewell concert in 1991 at Madison Square Garden. I felt dad with me this weekend, and it was really comforting to feel his presence there. It also was a great chance for me to reconnect with a lot of family and friends that I had not seen in ages, as well as work with some of Puerto Rico’s top Salsa musicians. The whole week and experience feels as though it went by in a blur, but it was still incredibly fun and it was a pleasure and honor to be apart of such a landmark event in both our family’s history as well as for Latin music and the Puerto Rican community!
Well, I did my best to keep things short, but I hope this read was pleasurable! Please check in with my gigs list for the shows that I have coming up, many of which will be super fun, and as always, I hope that where ever you are, that all is well and that this messages finds you in good spirits! Please enjoy this video, taken during sound check for the Richie Ray Bobby Cruz 50th Anniversary Concert:
I’ve begun to write this from a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan, though I’m sure I won’t finish this writing here. By the sheer fact that I’m updating this site, you can safely surmise that I’ve returned from the Secret Chiefs 3 tour of Europe. That is, of course, if the title wasn’t enough of a give away for you. Myself and Toby Driver arrived Tuesday afternoon to a thankfully not-so-crowded JFK International Airport, only to take what would have been the most roundabout and costly way to either of our Brooklyn homes via a very frustrated cabbie. (He spent a good chunk of time in traffic riffing at some chick on the phone). But that’s the beauty of living in a major metropolitan city, and though breakfast in Paris’ red light district was no where near as gross as you’re thinking (more like a park slope brunch, but at a restaurant called Twinkie; I shit you not), there’s No place like home!
For all intents and purposes, the SC3 tour was a huge success and incredible amount of fun was had by all. It’s somewhat strange that it is all over now and everyone is back to their “regular routines” considering how intensely this band tours. Everyday there’s a new show, possibly in a different country, but never really a day off (with the exception of one day where the gig fell through), constant load in, setup, soundcheck, show, break down, load out, rinse & repeat. After a while, it becomes hypnotic; The lack of sleep coupled with the constant lifting and moving into fully rocked-out shows, then back to reality and manuel labor, it soon becomes a physical and spiritual high. But after about 6 weeks, it’s nice to be able to come back to a place like New York and say, “Ah, back to normalcy!” I think for most people, calling NYC normal would be a rather strange leap in logic. Then again, I tend to favor strange leaps in logic.
As most of you have already seen from both my previous posts and itinerary, the time has come to begin the tour with Secret Chiefs 3. It easily goes without saying, but I’m incredibly excited!
In light of this, I will do my absolute best to keep this site updated, but in reality, the condition of my laptop makes it very precarious for me to bring it on the road, so I’ll be doing all future tour-related posts via my mobile phone. As you can imagine, this could drastically affect my overall output. I will, however, do my best to keep the Twitter and Facebook accounts active (where pilfering WIFI is a reality… Is it really pilfering anymore? Wifi connections abound…). Hopefully, some really nice pics and video will come of all of this.
Please stay tuned and many thanks for your support! Now, off to Europe!
*** SECRET CHIEFS 3 ***
Winter 2012 : new LINEUP : new SET !
Full new songs never played LIVE from
*FORMS, Traditionalists, UR and Ishraqiyun*
Here’s a clip of myself and good friend, pianist Pablo Vergara, taking solos on the song Obeahman by composer and saxophonist Jorge Sylvester. This was taken in January of 2011 at the Baha’i Center in Manhattan as part of Mike Longo’s long running Tuesday Night Jazz Series. The group is called The A.C.E. Collective (Afro-Caribbean Experimental Collective, if you will) and is lead by Jorge Sylvester. Other members include bassist Donald Nicks, vocalist Nora McCarthy, and trumpeter Waldron ‘Mahdi’ Ricks. The Group will have a performance on Oct 18th at the Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, NY. I unfortunately will not be able to be apart of this, but they have a very special kick-ass guest to serve as my sub. It’s music that truly is worth hearing live.
This performance is a little something different than what you’re probably used to seeing me do, but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless.
In this moment I’m reminded of Louis CK when he said, “I really don’t know how to start shows…” I find the need to write to whomever will happen upon this writing, as well as to the loyal followers of my site, but I never know how to actually start the process of writing. I have always been much more of a reactionary person than a initiator, if you will. But then again, it would seem that I’ve already started, so here we go.
I’m currently in the process of preparing for several upcoming ventures, one of those being the upcoming Dapp Theory performance at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival this Sunday, the 26th at 4PM in Tompkins Square Park. For me, this brings back memories of when I first joined Lonnie Plaxico’s group. It would also happen to be the first time Dapp Theory bassist Chris Tordini saw me perform, before we became good friends and band mates in several projects, including my old fusion group Hybrid. It’s been some years since I’ve performed at this festival, but considering how the years have gone and everything that has happened for me personally over the last several years, it truly feels like a homecoming. This is a good thing because the highschool I went to had ZERO sports teams, so no marching bands, no cheerleading squads, and certainly no homecomings. We played Mahler and Coltrane’s quartet music, so I think it was a much better trade off. In other news with Dapp Theory, we are making our final push with the Kickstarter campaign we started some time ago, raising funds in order to complete the album we’ve started working on. Having been an artist whom several times has had to record, release, and promote an album without management, label, investors, PR, or any industry consideration, I can tell you first hand that it is never easy when doing it alone, regardless of how long you’ve been in the “scene.” I do have to say that though I’m usually never happy with any of my recorded performances, I am happy with the musical repertoire on this album. It’s a much more eclectic mix of Jazz/World/MB than previous offerings, but still retains many of the concepts and elements that make Dapp Theory what it is. Then again, with 3 new players, one of which that plays the Armenian Duduk and another that plays Salsa and Death Metal, things can go to much different places. So, I would encourage any fan of Dapp Theory or any fan of mine or even the wayward cyber-traveler, If you feel lead, then feel free to donate a couple of bucks. Every dollar that goes into the campaign does really count for a lot. The album will then have the means to fly and considering the work myself and the rest of the band has put in over the last 6 years for this group, It would be lovely to finally have a physical offering for the world to hear.
As some of you may have noticed, if you’ve checked out my Itinerary, I will be doing a string of performances throughout Europe. Many of us tend to refer to this as a “Tour.” Well I am happy to make public that I will be performing with Trey Spruance’s Secret Chiefs 3 this year on their European Tour in the Fall. It’s something that came to fruition after the AbraxasJazz In Marciac concert with Zorn’s Aleph Trio and Secret Chiefs 3. Ches Smith, drummer for SC3, Xiu Xiu, various Tim Berne projects, Mary Halvorson, Trevor Dunn, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dogs and slew of other ridiculous music, as well as Timba Harris, Violinist for SC3 and Estradasphere, thought it would be good to have me fill in for Ches on this upcoming tour. When they both asked me what I thought about it I was honestly kind of stunned. Getting the chance to see SC3 live and share the stage was one thing, but to perform some of Trey’s music is something else entirely. Disco Volante was a go-to point musically for myself and high school friend and badass guitarist Edwin Itoh: His old band, Zeno, used to cover Mr Bungle tunes in various shit-hole venues throughout South Florida, such as the ill-located Chuchill’s in Miami, Fl. Mr Bungle was truly a gateway band that lead me to many other interests and places musically. In a lot of ways, my performing with Abraxas, Resolution 15, Hung, Hipster Assassins, and Nevereven, as well as many other projects, would never have taken place because I still would have been a 70′s Fusion/60′s Jazz/40′s mambo/Classical geek all this time. Suffice it to say, to have the chance to play with SC3 is beyond an honor; it’s more like living a childhood fantasy. I’ll continue to write about and hopefully post more as the weeks follow, but for now, it’s time to learn the depths of this mountain of beautifully visceral music. Here’s something that it may sound like-
Abraxas, Aleph Trio, & Secret Chiefs 3 Live:
Lastly, here’s a clip from the last Hipster Assassins hit from 55 Bar this past Thursday, August 23rd. It’s not the complete song, but it still has a bit of vibe on it, I think. Also, you get to see me drink and play at the same time. (Yes, it was one of those kind of shows, but not in a bad way). We played in front of a very dedicated and energetic crowd that night, who stuck around for TWO 90min sets. I call those people ‘Champions.’ All in all, it was a great night of music, which leads me to my last bit of news.
As some of you may already know, Resolution 15 bassist Jim Robertson has left the group to pursue other interests and musical endeavors. As you can imagine, it was a huge blow for the band, but thankfully all is passed on good terms. We were saddened to see him leave, but as the man he is, he completed the tracking for our upcoming full length in half a day. About 25mins worth of music that requires scores and pages of sheet music done in the time it takes to setup drums and mic them. It was utterly ridiculous and it’s truly a Badass parting gift! Since then, we’ve held several auditions for the new bassist, and some pretty badass bassists to boot, but we’ve found the missing link. Mike Bendy, member of the Hipster Assassins and The Bendy Effect, has taken over the reigns as our new bassist. Out of everyone we tried out, he literally brought the kind of musicianship, aggression, and fire that we need to be who we are. I’ve been very happy having him on board and I’m looking forward to unleashing him and all of the new R15 music upon the public very soon. More news on that will follow soon…
I believe that is all for now, save for maybe that clip from the 55 Bar I promised earlier. As always, thank you for reading and see you soon…