Take Five With Brian Adler


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Meet Brian Adler: Drummer Brian Adler is well-versed in many forms of improvised music including jazz, avant-garde, folk, and Indian music. He is known for his uniquely delicate, earthy sound and sparseness on the drums. Brian has shared the stage with Ran Blake, Bob Brookmeyer, Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski, Dave Holland, Erik Lawrence, Joe Lovano, Kate McGarry, Ray Vega as well as many others. He is the backbone of Prana Trio and is the founder of Circavision Productions. Brian holds a Bachelor's Degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Instrument(s): drum set, tablas, mrdung.

Teachers and/or influences? I have had the good fortune to study with Billy Hart, Bob Moses, John Hollenbeck, Misha Masud, Bob Meyer, Joe Morris, Cecil McBee, John Lockwood, as well as others.

Some of my biggest influences are: Paul Motian, John Hollenbeck, Elvin Jones, Jack De Johnette, Ed Blackwell, John Bonham, Nasheet Waits, Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy, Marilyn Crispell, Keith Jarrett, Billie Holiday, Ligeti, Astor Piazzolla, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lao Tzu, Mirabai, Shankarcarya, Kabir, Rumi, Frank Gehry, Taoism, Sufism, and Kashmir Shaivism.

Your sound and approach to music: My sound and approach to the drums draw from the phrasing and space of Paul Motian, the spark of John Hollenbeck, to the circling nature of Elvin Jones, the feel of Jon Christensen, and the occasional backbeat reminiscent of John Bonham. There is also a bit of an Indian influence since I grew up in an ashram playing the mrdung for chants, similar to Kirtans.

Your dream band: Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Pranam. I believe it is a solid representation of who I was at the time. Plus some of the playing on the album by Stomu Takeishi, Frank Carlberg and Sunny Kim just blows me away! It was great because I had the time to really sit with the music both before and after the actual recording dates. Many of the songs were written several years prior, so they had a chance to evolve and eventually settle into something natural. Then after we laid down the initial tracks, I spent several months sorting through the material, in and out of the studio, finding exactly what I wanted to use and where it should go. In the end it became more of a musical collage than I had initially imagined, almost like Bitches Brew in that way, but I like that sort of thing.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I am not sure that I can articulate what I am contributing musically, but I can say that I am trying to approach the drums, and really composition in general, through a very honest lens. I look at each new composition and performance as a chance to express who and where I am at that very moment. And I try to stay as detached as possible from this process as well as from the end result. Lately this has led me to focus on the incorporation of ritual into the music, as well as the inspiration of sacred poetry. Hopefully, by listening to my body of work, one could draw his/her own conclusions as to my musical contributions.

CDs you are listening to now: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Live in New York City (M.I.L. Multimedia, 1997); Louis Armstrong - The Ultimate Collection (Verve, 2000); Steve Lacy - Evidence (New Jazz/OJC, 1961); Anindo Chatterjee - Dreams on Drums (Audiorec, 2001); Marilyn Crispell - Storyteller (ECM, 2004).

What is in the near future? There is a lot coming up that I am very excited about, including some possible touring with Prana Trio in celebration of the new album, Pranam. The record release and possible tour with Ambos Mundos (Ray Vega and Sharon Spinetti's project combining opera, jazz and world music) is also expected soon. An album with guitarist Andy Gabrys is nearly complete, and a collaborative project with guitarist Lily Maase is slowly taking shape and proving to be well worth the wait. Check back with www.BrianAdler.com for updated info on all of these projects and more.

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