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Michael Lauren
17-10-2019 00:00

1. José Duarte – cumo é um n-americano da Música vive em Portugal? a tocar?

Michael Lauren – Portugal has been a terrific county for me both to live and work. The quality and tranquility of life, the food, the sun, and the warmth of the people is wonderful. Of course being a New York musician, I knew I wasn’t going to play as much as I did in the States, but life is about making choices and I chose to move to Portugal in order to do something special as an educator. I knew I could change the level of drumming and influence the future of Jazz in my new home. It was a unique opportunity, and one that I couldn’t turn down, when invited to become the Professor of Bateria at ESMAE sixteen years ago. I also knew that there were many excellent musicians living in Portugal, and therefore I never doubted that I was going to play with many of them at a high musical level. Fortunately I have had both good quality and substantial quantity of wonderful music to play.


2. JD – porquê bateria? um instrumento ‘físico’…

ML – I first picked up drumsticks, at the age of eight, after watching my brother play on his practice pad. I guess it was love at first sight and I have never looked back. There is something about the sound of hitting the drums and the physicalness that has always and still attracts me. I like the idea of playing energetically and strong. Drumming makes me feel alive 
3. JD – conte seus anos de trabalho na ‘Drummers Collective NYC’?  
ML – I was always a very active performing artist and educator in New York. As a founding member of the Drummers Collective, which opend in the fall of 1977, I helped establish the direction, the standard of teaching and the spirit of the school. The Collective was comprised of high level experienced NYC drummers and percussionists who loved to teach. At the time it was created, it was the only school in world that was dedicated soley to teaching Drummers and percussionts. Over the years we taught many U.S. and foreign drummers and percusionists and during the 25 years that I was on the faculty I taught both beginners, already successful professional drummers, and every one in between. It was a creative, non-competitve and sharing atmosphere, not only between teachers and students but also among the faculty itself. Our approach to teaching drumming styles became the method other drum schools around the world copied. It  was and still is the world’s premere drum school. 

4. JD – quem são para si os bateristas jazz de referência que o influenciaram?

ML – Many jazz drummers beginning with Louis Hays have influenced me. I first listened to and played along with Luis on the Horace Silver album “Blowin The Blues Away” with the guidane of my first drum teacher Nat Foodman at the age of 10. Of course Gene Krupa’s athleticism and Buddy Rich’s fire and technqiue were both an inspirational and motivating force for me. I also ingested the swing of all the big band drummers I have listened to and played along with including: Chick Webb, Louis Bellson, Alvin Stoller, Sonny Payne, Papa Jo Jones, Mel Lewis and Jake Hanna. Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Art Blakey Jimmy Cobb, Grady Tate, Albert “Tootie” Heath as well Elvin Jones, Jack Dejohnette and Paul Motian all have  influenced my small group playing. 
 5. JD – em Portugal toca e grava com os ‘melhores’ jazzmen tugueses? e nos USA? 
ML - Yes to both questions. I have been forutnate to have played and continue to play and record with many of Portugal’s finest jazz musicians. I have made records with Mario Santos, Hugo Alves, The Postcard Brass Band  and of course my Michael Lauren All Stars which is comprised of many of Portugal’s top jazz artists including Carlos Barretto, Nuno Ferriera, Hugo Alves, José Menezes and Jeffery Davis. Playing in a number of Big Bands including Orquestra Jorge Costa Pinto and Orquestra Jazz Algarve has also given me the opportunity to work with many of Portugal’s finest musicians, albeit in a Big Band setting. I have also worked with Mario Laginha, Maria João, Nelson Cascais and Rão Kyao, and Jacinta.

I have played with many of America’s finest jazz musicians, not only in the States, but also here in Portugal. I have been fortunate to have played with Benny Golson, Tom Harrell, Rick Margitza and Dena DeRose when they came to play in Portugal as the invited quests of  Orquestra Jazz Algarve and Bob Stewart when he was a guest of the Gravissimo Brass Festival. In the States,
I had the opportuity to play, and/or record with, or for, Bob Mintzer, Bill Frisell, Kenny Davern, Milt Hinton, Teo Macero, Don Sebesky, Mike Stern, Ted Curson and Bross Townsend.
 6. JD – conhece bem o jazz em Portugal? ou só o jazz da zona Porto ou Porta Jazz?  

ML – I try to stay up with what is happening in Jazz throughout the country by going both to concerts and listening to CD’s when possible. Having the luxury to have always lived in both Lisboa and Porto has allowed me to play and socialize with many of the successful jazz musicians on the scene. In addition, many of the musicians living in Porto were my students when they studied at ESMAE. I continue to follow their careers.


7. JD – jazz não se ensina o que se ensina é Música é minha esta opinião e não só minha… exemplo: ‘Berkeley School of MUSIC’ em Boston USA uma escola muito frequentada agora então por vários jazzmen tugas até Michael lá foi aluno…

ML – I also agree that it is Music that is taught in Music schools, but each musical genre has a unique language and specific skills that must be respected and learned by the student. A formal academic atmosphere is one way for students to develop these skills and put the concepts in a performance context. I believe the teacher is there to give information, direction and inspiration. 
I also believe that teachers should to help each student find his or her own voice. Teaching students efficient, proven successful practice techniques and organizing skills is an important task of the teacher. It is not just what you practice but how you practice that gets results.


8. JD – opinião sobre o valor jazz de Justin Faulkner? e para ir aos extremos Jo Jones? ambos bateristas Jo sorria sempre tem cumo Higgins o Billy e o ‘nosso’ Laginha...

ML – I really admire Justin Faulkner’s drumming. I dig his musical resources, his energy, drive and musical choices. Justin has been able to integrate and organize the American jazz tradition into his own voice. But we musn’t forget that there wouldn’t be a Justin Faulkner without Papa Jo Jones. As Max Roach once said, “For every 4 beats a drummer plays, 3 of them are Papa Jo Jones”.  For me the iconic Papa Jo Jones exemplifies swing. And even though another great drummer’s swing may swing differently than the swing of Jo Jones, it won’t be better. 
Drummers smile and often laugh because we are happy when we play. The surge of energy while playing gives us both a sense of well being and pure pleasure. Do I smile and laugh when I play? You bet
9. JD – usa pouco escovas… why? 
ML – That’s not really true. I love to play brushes and I play brushes on two of the duets on my most recent album “Old School / Fresh Jazz and have played brushes on many other recordings including “Given Soul” by the Portuguese artist Hugo Alves. I use brushes only when I think the brush appraoch is appropriate for the music to be played or when the composer or arranger asks for them specifically. I believe brushes should support and contribute to the ambience and spirit of the music, and not just utilized because one can’t play sticks soft enough. Brushes are special 


10. JD -  cumo chama à Outra Música? clássica ou erudita ou escrita

ML – Both jazz and classical art forms have evolved and therefore not only can a musical period be called classic but a style can also be called a classic style. In jazz Bebop and Hard Bop are classic styles. Jazz is often a combination of written music and improvisation and so is Contemporary “Classical “ music. So to believe that Classical music is the only written music is

a fallacy. Both genres of music require musical literacy, technical proficiency, tonal quality and creativity. Sure it’s true that paying for musical studies is biased towards the rich. Unfortunately however, you can say the same for all the arts as well as many other studied endeavors in life. Society has an obligation to make all disciplines equally available to all economic classes


11. JD – sua bibliografia não é cá muito conhecido Welcome To Odd Times - An Approach To Mental and Manual Dexterity For The Drum Set, The Book of Silence, The Encyclopedia of Double Bass Drumming, Rudiments And Variations For Drummers, Understanding Rhythm - A Guide To Reading Music, Rhythmic Fundamentals, Compreender Ritmo...  1 em português quando os escreveu? são sucesso nos USA?

 ML – I really don’t know if my Bibliography is well known or not. As an author and educator you hope that students know that the books are available and are respected in the music community. In fact, all my seven books have been well received in the States, and of course some have sold more than others. The theft of intellectual property is a problem for all authors and I know my books have been affected by this reality. My most successful book is “The Encyclopedia Of Double Bass Drumming” (2000) and in fact was chosen as one of the 25 Timeless Drum Books by Modern Drummer magazine. The first book I wrote, “Welcome To Odd Times - An Approach To Mental and Manual Dexterity For The Drum Set” was published in 1980. I wrote two of my books in the 1990’s: “Understanding Rhythm: A Guide To Reading Music” (published 1991) and “Rudiments And Variations For Drummers (published: First Edition 1995/Fourth Edition 2001). Since moving to Portugal I have created: “Rhythmic Fundamentals”, the text book conceived for my ESMAE class Fundamentos do Ritmica (published 2010); “Compreender Ritmo” (2010), my only book written in Portuguese; and I finally completed the book I had started many years earlier, “The Book of Silence: For All Musical Instruments” (published 2012). 
 12. JD – swing transformou-se ou deixou de existir em jazz? a pulsação rítmica em jazz tem taquicardias… ML – Swing is still a vital and valued rhtymic concept in jazz.  But it seems that now more than ever, it must compete with the eigth note approaches of funk, rock, latin and other contemporary musicial genres. Unfortunatley, many of the younger generaton artists don’t have the same commitment to play the ternary pulsation that the jazz of the past extensively used. Today, if you call it jazz then it is jazz. I can only hope that jazz will never lose it’s ternary roots. 
The left hand of a drummer has a number of funtions. It can be used to play rhythmic figures which propels the harmony forward (like a pianists comping of figures). It ie also employed an accentuator of melody notes or within the support of a soloist’s rhythmic flow. Addtionally left hand figures can mark the structure of individual phrases or the complete form during the improvation of the other instruments. Breaks can also funtion as structural marking poings or resolving shapes at the end of phrases or the complete form of the solo structure.
13 JD – porque é tão difícil para muita gente acentuar o tempo fraco? 
ML – It is definitely more natural for the majority of people to feel and accentuate the strong rhythmic pluses in music. Being a strong beat means that it has an accentuation where the other beats don’t. Therefore strong beats are easier to find, hear and feel. I believe people can’t accentuate the weak beats because they don’t know how to find them. If accentuating the weak beat does not not come naturally to a person, male or female, then he or she must be practice finding it and hearing it first before feeling and accenting the weak beat. This means slowing the tempo of the rhythm down and subdividing the principal pulse into smaller increment, making the weak beat easier to find, hear and feel Of course this takes time, desire and practice.  But of course all three elements must be present whenvever any skill is to be learned.


14 JD – tocou com Paul Anka esta celebridade também politizada e justa tem muito a ver com o balanço africano… mas com jazz não me parece…

ML - Being a muli-stylist, I enjoy and have the capabiliy to play all types of music. So it was not surprising to me when the opportunity to work for Paul Anka, who of course is not a jazz artist, presented itself. As a Pop Star, Paul Anka has had a long career as a song writer, Rock & Roll teen idol and acomplished entertainer. Working with him was an excellent experience. The band was terrific and it was real fun not only to play his hits but also watch him work the audience. Many the tunes were arranaged by Don Costa, Torre Ziro and other top arrangers, so the qualtiy of the music we played was what you would expect from an experienced star. The fact that

I wasn’t playing jazz was never an issure for me. Actually the band swung and rocked hard


15.  JD – e com Tom Harrell esse excecional tecnicista em trompete tiverem êxitos together?

ML - I had the oportunity to play with Tom Harrell when he was the invited quest of Orquestra Jazz Algarve, under the direction of Hugo Alves. We played his big band arrangements which were both open and challenging. The interaction during his solos was both electrifying musically satisfying. It’s always easy for me to support a soloist who has a great sound, rhythmically interesting concepts and a coherence of ideas. Tom Harrell has all three. Playing with Tom was
a joy and I know he was very happy after the concert with the Orquestra’s performance.

16. JD - fale-nos da  ‘International Drum Academy’ da qual foi fundador em Lisboa

ML – Opening a Drum Academy in Lisboa was on my to do list, when I moved to Portgual. Luckily a great space for my idea was finally discovered and The International Drum Academy opened it’s doors in 2011. I wanted to bring to Lisboa a creative and disciplined musical environment in which drum students of all experience levels would come to study and develop their individual drumming skills. The IDA is a club of drummers who learn music as a shared experience rather than a being a traditional music school. There are no tests, diplomas, recitals etc. In fact it is “pay as you go” (students only pay for the classes they attend) training center, where ideas are exchanged, new musical skills taught and old skills refined. By stressing fundamentals, reading, rudiments, knowledge of the rhythms of the world (both contemporary and folkloric), and how they all fit into the big picture of musical performance, the Academy fosters discipline, creativity, and individuality. In addition a historical perspective is stressed at all times. The goal of the International Drum Academy is to teach drumming at the highest level of musicality in order that each student has the information and technical skills to develop his or her own unique musical voice. Thankfully the Academy is working just as I had hoped.

 17. JD – e Críticos em ou de Música… qual a sua opinião please e para agora acabar que pensa da iniciativa da ‘Down Beat’ uma vez em cada agosto a que chamou ‘Critics Poll’ e um português só melhor sozinho entre cerca de cento e muitos…

ML - There is definitely a need for music critics, especially ones that are knowledgeable about music in general and in particular very knowledgeable about the specific musical genre that they are writing about. Critics should be fair, honest and definitely not be trying to promote their own personal agenda. Critics should only critique music that they appreciate.

As for Polls, they are fun but they are based on popularity, rather than the reality of who is the top player on their instrument. At a certain level of mastery, who is best is really about the taste of the listener/critic and nothing more. The fact that Portuguese artists have made it into the Downbeat Critics Poll is terrific and a real achievement for the jazz scene of Portugal.








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