Brian Woodruff : Modern DrummerGreeting fellow drummers! My name is Brian Woodruff and I’m a jazz drummer living in New York City. I’ve just released my first CD as a leader, The Tarrier. It features my sextet, which includes a stellar cast of musicians: Lisa Parrott on alto and soprano saxophones, Jacob Varmus on trumpet and cornet, Alan Ferber on trombone, Nate Radley on guitar, and Matt Closehy on bass. I’ve written all of the music for the sextet, covering a wide variety of moods, grooves, and harmonic styles. We can swing with the best of them and take it far out as well, but it’s all with a mind towards providing the audience with hummable melodies and a deep groove.

Although this is my debut CD, I’ve been gigging in the New York City area for a long time now, and spent an even longer time developing my craft. I started taking private lessons around the age of twelve, and my listening gradually shifted from classic rock to classic jazz. I entered my jazz snob phase around the age of nineteen while getting a bachelor’s degree in classical percussion at the University of Connecticut. Strangely enough, I outgrew my jazz snob phase while getting my master’s in jazz and commercial music. During my years in school, I had the honor of studying with John Riley, Justin DiCioccio, and Bill Stewart, among many others. After school, I did an amazing variety of gigs. I’ve played in the subway, done national tours with Broadway musicals, and played jazz composition workshops, standards gigs, club dates, chanson, cabaret, reggae bands, etc.

Aside from my current project with my sextet, I’m really excited to be a member of Jacob Varmus’s quartet with Jake, pianist Toru Dodo, and bassist Kevin Thomas. Jacob is an extremely creative jazz composer who also writes within a wide variety of grooves and styles. We’ve been busy gigging with the band and also the Genes And Jazz Project. I’m also proud to be a member of Jeff Newell’s New-Trad Octet. We play 19th- and early 20th-century music with a modern twist. Jeff combines church hymns with zydeco and Afro-Cuban rhythms, synthesizes Sousa marches with Kompa and Vodou styles, and modernizes a lot of traditional N’Awlins roots music. I also play for Unity Church of New York every Sunday at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side. These projects keep me busy and keep things interesting.

The drums I use for most gigs now are a bizarre mish-mash of brands and sizes. I play a 16x 16 Slingerland floor tom that was converted to a bass drum, a 14×15 ten-lug Ludwig rack tom that was concerted to a floor tom, and a 5×14 Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum. (I don’t use a small tom.) I have a 22″ ’60s A Zildjian ride cymbal, an 18″ crash/ride that is stamped “Manny’s,” and a mix of two pair of 14 ’70s A Zildjian hi-hats.

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