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Influences and Listening List

This is a collection of recordings and concerts that have been/are the most influential to me as a jazz student and musician. Especially during my Bachelors degree, I spent hours with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and Monty Alexander Trio.


The Michael Bublé album, Call Me Irresponsible, was a monumental turning point in my decision to pursue jazz drumming at a higher level, having originally considered pursing jazz vocals until the CHJO roared in on the opening track, 'The Best Is Yet To Come'. This reignited my passion for jazz percussion and led to my pursuing of jazz drums as my primary instrument.

Count Basie, Buddy Rich and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestras also formed a large part of my listening and musical identity throughout my undergrad, and then we get to the multiple small group/combo recordings that I have enjoyed and/or learned a lot from over the years.

This list is somewhat in order of most enjoyed/important/influential, and I add to this list as time goes on. Central to my approach as a drummer is singing. I think singing is crucial to developing an ear and ability for phrasing and articulation. Use this playlist and sing along not only to any vocal phrasing (especially the great Sinatra recordings) but most importantly, the big band writing of the legends included in this collection. Shout sections and saxophone soli have been memorised over the years - not for any academic purpose (asides The Rocker) but rather through the pure enjoyment these recordings have given me over the years.

List created June 20th, 2023 after a lesson and discussion with a fellow drummer in Berlin, Germany. Cheers for the idea Egor, and a huge thanks to my teachers and friends from whom I've learned so much over the years - and in particular regard to this list: Lance Philip, Dave Lisik, Dennis Mackrel and Hendrik Nehls.

Playlist Notes

Hit the 'YouTube Playlist Here' button above to hear the music that has influenced and continues to influence my musicality and approach to drumming. Below is a quick commentary on my top selections.

All subject to change, and please consult the YouTube Playlist for the most up-to-date changes.

The Best Is Yet To Come
Michael Bubl

The opening track on the Michael Bublé album, Call Me Irresponsible. I bought this album in high school with the intention of listening to Buble's singing. I was considering studying jazz vocals, but this changed when I heard Jeff Hamilton and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra on the record. 

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the Jazzwoche Burghausen 2011

In my second year of my undergraduate studies, my teacher Lance Philip suggested that I listen to Jeff Hamilton, as my playing style at that point seemed to resemble that of the legendary jazz drummer. Cue the lightbulb moment and realisation that Jeff was on the Michael Bublé album I found in high school which led to my decision to consider drumming as a serious study and career option.

This CHJO concert informed a lot of my vocabulary through Hamilton's big band and combo playing. Of note are the tracks 'Max', 'Squatty Roo', 'Back Home In Indiana', and with John Pizzarelli, 'You Make Me Feel So Young' and 'Nice 'n' Easy'.

Hay Burner
Count Basie and his Orchestra

One of the first tracks that Lance Philip introduces to all his students, and one that became a personal favourite. The Harold Jones era of the Basie band is the most important to me, with his simple yet clear phrasing and setups bringing the swing to the swinginest band to have ever lived.

Big Dipper
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

My favourite from the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

I spent a lot of time with their music during my time with the Wellington and New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestras, and Mel's playing is of course a great influence not only myself but many of the greats - past and present.

Monty Alexander Trio
Live in Concert 2011

A concert I spent hours listening to, not only when I transcribed Jeff Hamilton's solo on 'Work Song' but in general as one of my favourite recordings of all time. The opening track Mojo is as swinging as swinging gets; Work Song is a repeat of their performance that launched the trio to stardom in 1976, while their rendition of Django is a great arrangement that weaves through different feelings and energies that leaves you tense yet musically satisfied - includes a great showcase of John Clayton's arco ability, and Jeff's commentary and embellishments are as tasty as ever.

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