Young Drums… 13 Who Set the Beat For The Future Downbeat November 2003 (Jazz, Blues, and Beyond) By James Hale

“There was a time when there seemed to be just a few first-rate drummers. Every recording that grooved in really interesting ways either featured one of the remaining masters like Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes or one of a handful from the next generation: Jack DeJohnette, Billy Hart, Paul Motian and their peers. In the last 20 years, there has been a flood of new time-keepers coming onto the scene, and a number of them – including Matt Wilson, Brian Blade, Jeff Watts and Terri Lyne Carrington – have made some serious noise, displacing more senior players on DownBeat’s Critics Poll. The deluge hasn’t stopped. New voices keep making themselves heard in every style of jazz, bringing a variety of backgrounds, influences and technical approaches to the music. To highlight the range of expression being heard, we picked a baker’s dozen superb drummers under 40 – representing a variety of styles and locales – who might not yet have caught your ear. Like many sons, Nasheet Waits, 33, wanted to expand the horizons beyond the family business but was drawn back in by his father’s premature death. Freddie Waits – the impeccably precise drummer for McCoy Tyner, Max Roach’s M’Boom, Mercer Ellington and others – never pushed his son to take up the drums, but you can’t always deny your destiny. “I always had an affinity for music, and being around it so much, it was just second nature to me. My father never forced it, but when he passed away (at the age of 46 in 1989) I came home to New York from college and his drums were all there. It just seemed like a natural thing to do.” “Natural” and “organic” are also the words Waits used to describe his style, which has augmented music by Antonio Hart, Joe Lovano, Andrew Hill, Geri Allen and Jaki Byard, among others. Today, he is one-third of Jason Moran’s groundbreaking Bandwagon trio as well as the beat behind Fred Hersch’s trio. Waits cites “Uncle Max” Roach and Michael Carvin as being major influences on his development, although he also tips his hat to Billy Hart, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. What he has in common with all of them is openness to all types of music, which in his case encompasses James Brown, tabla music and hip-hop. Having big ears is a priority in Moran’s trio, where both Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen are required to respond to a huge range of musical cues. “This band is a whole lot of fun, but it gives me an entire new level of responsibility to deal with as well. Dealing with the vocabulary that we do has definitely forced me to take my playing up a notch.”

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