Hi! My name is Alec, I’m a Japanese drummer currently in America, and I just realized it's my 5 year anniversary of playing drums so here's a little story I’m going to tell...
Most people who know my current musical state know that I like pretty much anything that swings. After all, I’m the person in class who blasts Count Basie recordings on speakers and makes jazz drum covers to post on Instagram and Youtube. Thinking back though, it's funny because when I first started playing drums as a high schooler at a local music studio in downtown Tokyo, I was playing along mostly to punk and alternative rock (bands like Against Me!, Foo Fighters, Rancid, and Joan Jett, just to name a few).
I guess I got spun into the direction of jazz when Randy Wanless, the director of my high school’s big band, welcomed me as one of his new band members in 2015. Back then everything was difficult for me. I didn’t know how to interpret jazz drum charts, had a hard time getting my limbs to cooperate with each other, and even felt like giving up halfway through the school year because of the difficult arrangements I would be challenged with. But I gotta tell you, this ended up being one of the most important experiences of my musical life.. because if it weren't for me liking jazz drums and wanting to learn more about it, I don't think I would have ended up being matched with Bernie Galane for private lessons here at Musicians Institute, the school I’m currently in.
I first met Bernie at Summer Shot 2016, the one week summer camp at the Musicians Institute. During the lesson he did a play along of Buddy Rich’s Timecheck, after telling him that I played in a high school big band. I was blown away by the crazy and exciting performance! As we parted ways, he said to me, “Someday you’re gonna be playing Buddy’s songs too.” So of course, when I came here to study drums full time I requested Bernie for private lessons without a second thought. The day we reunited was like magic!
Fast forward to now, it's officially my 5th quarter studying drums with Bernie, and we're playing Buddy Rich's Timecheck together! It's still so surreal, I didn't think I would get this far with jazz or drums, let alone life. Bernie taught me so many things, from basic comping and set up fills to complicated coordination workouts and latin rhythms. Even though I didn’t like it half the time, it’s good I plowed through though, because everything he showed me were skills necessary for improving as a drummer, regardless of the musical style or situation I’m in.
With that being said, my entry for Hit Like A Girl 2019 is a Buddy Rich Timecheck play along video! I would like to dedicate this special performance to Gregg Potter and Cathy Rich. Thank you for fueling me with the excitement of big band swing jazz! It's been super fun learning and playing this piece! And someday, I’d like to be the one to pass on the joy of jazz drumming to the next generation of young musicians.