Issue 2 2014

"A percussionist in the widest and most exuberant sense of the word"--The Washington Post

I'm excited to welcome the new subscribers from the U.S., Europe, Middle East, and Africa. It's a joy to share my work and news throughout the world.

I am extremely honored to be presented, for the second year, the WAMA (Washington Area Music Award) for Best World Music Instrumentalist. Congratulations to all winners and nominees in their respective categories. It is wonderful to be a part of such a vibrant musical community.

In celebration of my work combining world percussion with American Jazz I'm offering a new video. Clean Sweep is a solo on Djembe, bongos, and multiple instruments using Vic Firth Jazz Rakes. It is dedicated to brush master Ed Thigpen. Ed once stayed with me for about a week while we did educational programs and he coached me on brush technique while we hung out. He was very encouraging regarding my interest of combining brush technique on a variety of world percussion instruments. I hope you enjoy it!

I've just finished presenting a series of professional development workshops for DC public school music teachers. It was great to inspire and see the engagement.

Join us at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival, a collaboration with Jane Franklin Dance, Blue Moon, Red River, Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 2:00pm, discount code TomsFriend10 to receive a 10%. I urge you to support this program as well as all of the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival offerings.

On March 9 at 7:00pm I'll be performing my live concert with film for the Washington Ethical Society. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the first cut out animation film. Lotte Reiniger's work is exquisite. It also allows me to delve into my experience as a cultural envoy to the Middle East for my live soundtrack. I usually conclude with a talkback after the performance. Call (202) 882-6650 for more information.

World Percussion Workshop

Each month I am including a brief tutorial on my eclectic approach to "world percussion" filtered through my experience as an American jazz musician. Last month we used Alan Dawson type techniques to develop triplet fills as applied to the doumbek. This month I'm applying pandeiro technique to the djembe while adding the other three limbs in a drumset type application. One of the threads that runs through my hybrid approach is interchanging drumming techniques, traditions, and patterns through a variety of styles. The first note should be as resonate as possible. Frame drummers may want to reference a full sounding "dum" stroke. The heel tip strokes are similar to the strokes I use on congas and djembe to produce a double stroke roll. In this video I'm actually playing it with my left hand to allow my right hand interpret "ride" patterns. I suggest playing the pattern with both hands. It is helpful to play it with both hands in unison to develop evenness between the hands. Have fun and experiment with your own variations!

If you would like to schedule a lesson either in my studio or via Skype please contact me.

Looking Forward

I am composing music for my next project with Constellation Theatre which will be, The Love of the Nightingale. It's always a delight to work with Allison Stockman and the gifted designers and actors she pulls together. In my spare time I'm preparing music and logistics for a tour to Argentina this summer.

As February comes to a close my collaborator and friend Charles Williams and I would like to share our interpretation of some African Proverbs. These are accompanied by me simultaneously on doumbek and balafon.

Peace, Salam, Shalom, Shanti,