drummer Michael ZerangMichael Zerang has become a first-call player on the international “free music” scene, playing with such artists as Peter Br’tzmann, Ken Vandermark, Mats Gustafsson, Jaap Blonk, Sten Sandell, Axel Dorner, and many others. MD spoke with the percussionist before a duo concert with British saxophonist John Butcher in Milwaukee. “I was in Paris with John two weeks ago,” Michael recalls. “We were playing with cellist Fred Longberg-Holm, with whom we’ll be playing and recording in Chicago. I’ve been getting more opportunities to tour, and soon I’ll be in England and Scotland touring with saxophonist Tony Bevan.”

Ever expanding the boundaries of percussion, Zerang has written numerous commissions for theater in Chicago and recently did a series of concerts with dancers Shirka Urechko from Canada and Lotta Mellin from Sweden. “I love dancers. I’ll be touring in Sweden this fall with Lotta. The feedback from the dance and theater people is interesting. It’s a different audience. Percussion is new to them.”

Michael also takes a different teaching approach to the typical drum workshop. “At my workshops nobody plays for the first four hours,” he says. “No one touches a drum. Percussionists are so used to playing rhythms instead of thinking about the sonic aspects like decay and how things work. We cover those things first.”

Keep current on Zerang’s activities here.