When and how did you come to start playing music?
My Dad Alan was a drummer back in the 60's playing for Johnny Kidd and the pirates and various rock and roll bands, so I was always around music from a young age. When I was 9 I asked for a drum kit for Christmas. My parents bought me a 'real kit' for kids and set up some drum lessons.
I used to go along to my Dad’s gigs getting tips .... to eventually playing the second set of his gig. I was hooked straight away and a year later I joined the Midland Youth jazz orchestra 'MYJO' where I spent the next 15 years.
Tell us a bit about the path of your musical development.
I started drum lessons from the age of 9 where I had private lessons from a local Birmingham teacher George Cummings, also joining the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra (junior band)
A year later, I was invited to appear on BBC TV's Blue Peter, and later that year I also won the Mike Evans Memorial Scholarship to London where I studied for a week with Professor Trevor Tomkins of the Guildhall.
During this time I attended shows, receiving valuable tuition and 'sitting in' on a BBC big band session. I went on to have five more years of private tuition from Trevor.
Eventually performing in the senior MYJO band at 16 for nine years, helping them to win the BBC National Big Band Competition twice (2002) (2005) and also twice winning best drummer.
MYJO also went on to win the National Big Band Competition in Holland and best drummer award.
How did you get into jazz and why did you choose to focus on studying/playing jazz?
There was always music in the house when I was young, lots of vinyl and music videos.
I used to watch all kinds of music videos... The Buddy Rich Band, Gene Krupa, technique videos by Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine, Ed Thigpen, Ginger Baker .... who are all very versatile players but also great jazz drummers.
I got into the Jazz style of drumming straight away. It felt very natural to me. Playing with a big band was something I really enjoyed.... ! Having the responsibility to keep the band in good time (as you would in any band) and to drive a big band is a great feeling. It is difficult to play jazz ... it's not just a straight 2&4 it's more challenging and you need to have good technique. Jazz is never boring it's a good challenge to play and you can be more creative.
Not only a big band, I also play in jazz trio's which again is slightly different and having only a few players, you have to give more.
Which musicians have had a key influence on you and your music?
There are many musicians, not just drummers that I have listened to over the years. Also many different bands and styles. Many great jazz drummers are versatile and able to play many different styles of music .... some great drummers of mine ... Steve Gadd, Vinnie Calaiuta, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Bernie Dresel, Dennis Chambers, Sheila E,and many more.
If you were introducing a friend to jazz music for the first time, what 3 artists or albums would you recommend to them?
A few bands I used to listen to and play along to ....
Count Basie, Duke Ellington, The Big Phat Band, Herbie Hancock, and Ray Charles.
A mix of different jazz.
Tell us a bit about an upcoming project/band
Currently I am working with the New Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular Show which is a touring show. I also work with Singer Paul Pashley, James Last tribute Orchestra, various other big bands and cover bands. I'm a house drummer at the Jam house in Birmingham and I also do some pop sessions.
I hope to just keep busy working with many different players and bands doing what I love.
What key advice would you give to young female musicians planning to build a career as professional musician?
I would say to any young female wanting to make it in the music world ... to go for it. If you’re passionate and hardworking then you can make it. You get out what you put it.
The Jazz world is very different to the pop world but a good one to be in. From a drummers point of view it's good to listen to as many different style of jazz drummers, big bands and small bands as you can. I take a bit from each and make it into my own style.
Be your own style of player ... not someone else's.