Friday, August 29, 2014

Graham Lear Drum Clinic, Niagara-On-The-Lake

August 23, 2014
Public Library, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
by Tony G

Graham began with a 10- to 15-minute drum solo highlight various jazz styles, which drew a heart ovation from those present. He then indicated he may have played too long, but was met with shouts of, “No, no!” from his listeners.

Photo: Tony G

He then went into his background, starting with his days with a drum corps in London, Ontario, before moving on to his work with Natural Gas, Gino Vanelli, Santana, REO Speedwagon and, for about the past 20 years, as the tour drummer for Paul Anka.

The spoke a bit about the role of the drums in jazz and how they lock in with the bass and the rest of the band. He recalled the challenges of fitting in with the massive Santana percussion section, which featured as much as two sets of conga and bongo drums, as well as timbales.

Later, he mentioned how he had to use a monitor as big as a big-screen television set to be able to adequately hear the rest of the band because of the wall of sound produced by the percussion around him. Sound levels onstage could reach as high as 120 decibels and he suffers some hearing loss now because of it.

The busyness of the other percussionists meant Lear had to actually reduce his playing to tapping the high-hat at times in order to not clash with the other drums.

In the question-and-answer, he spoke of using a double-bass set for a time in the late 1970s, about the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and matched grip and gave a demonstration of “comping” on the snare, what it consists of and how it complements the music.

Mentioning the next day’s performance with his jazz trio at the Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake to close the Niagara Jazz Festival, Lear ended the clinic, then shook some hands and posed for some pictures.

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