2016 Drum! Magazine “World Percussionist of the Year”
Welcome to my latest sonic exploration! Much of this music is inspired by my recent tour to South Korea for the U.S. Department of State. In addition, this music will serve as the soundtrack for Constellation Theatre’s production, Journey to the West by Mary Zimmerman, based on the Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynastyand attributed to Wu Cheng'en, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. While this is not intended to be an authentic or scholarly representation of the depth of Asian music, it is meant to be my humble adaptation through my eyes, ears and imagination influenced by extensive collaborations with musicians throughout the world. I’m performing on more than twenty different instruments. The combination of ancient instruments including djembe, bongos, cymbals, gongs and all manor of percussion with several bamboo flutes are joined with modern electronic percussion, keyboards and melodicas to form the genre bending ancient/futuristic sonic pallet. I’m also adding some traditional Buddhist gongs and Chinese cymbals obtained in my recent travels. In addition, new instruments for this recording include the bawu featured in Journey to the West. Although shaped like a flute, it is actually a free reed instrument, with a single metal reed. The bawu is played in a transverse (horizontal) manner, has a pure clarinet-like timbre and its playing technique incorporates the use of much ornamentation, particularly bending tones. I’m also playing the kouxian in Zen Fever and The Mountain, which is a Chinese ancient jaw harp with pitched reeds allowing for a deep vibrato produced by flexing the cheeks. Even though I’m frequently using African and South American percussion instruments I’m playing with a variety of striking implements to take them out of their traditional environment and finding inspiration in Chinese opera percussion as well as Korean samulnori drumming.
Tapping into more of my jazz background, I’ve explored the use of drumset, jazz phrasing and concepts. Zen Fever is a humorous dialog with soft mallets on the drumset, bamboo flute, keyboards and kouxian inspired by the groove of rhythm and blues classic, Fever, made famous by Peggy Lee. Max in Beijing draws inspiration from one of my mentors, Max Roach, and is a virtual duet for drumset and temple blocks. Monkey Dance is inspired by the work of another jazz percussion legend, Jo Jones. The Gold Cicada features a 4/4 pulse with a quarter note triplet undercurrent phrased as a jazz waltz. Percussion jazz master, Elvin Jones, inspires this piece. The result is a poly-meter of 4/4 and 3/4 concurrently.
As always, my engineer, collaborator and friend Jim Robeson’s contributions are invaluable. I strongly feel that the result is as enjoyable a listen as it was to create.
I sincerely hope that this newest offering of my music can find a place in your ears, mind and heart.
All compositions by Tom Teasley T2 Music Copyright BMI 2016
Recorded at T2 Studio
Produced by Tom Teasley and Jim Robeson
Engineered by Tom Teasley and Jim Robeson
Mixed by Jim Robeson
Mastered by Tom Teasley