Djembe Thanksgiving – Part 2

January 15, 2010 at 11:52 am 2 comments

Djembe Thanksgiving
Part 2:
Kurzweil Jeff

Read Part 1: The Drummers and Joe
Read Part 3: Oy! Logistics, Permissions and Switzerland, Oh My!
Read Part 4: A Joyful Chaos!
Read Part 5: Drums In Church — Some Concluding Thoughts

At our first rehearsal, Joe Galeota, our drum leader from Berklee College of Music, told us a little about his background – and he set the stage for our music making.

He told all of the drummers, “OK, Jeff and Julia are going to play and sing the arrangement and we are just going to jam.  That way we’ll get to know each other.”  And jam they did.  They all just fell in with Joe.  It was so enthralling, watching and listening to them.  Eventually, Joe settled on different drums and shakers and parts for each one in the group.

Meanwhile, further behind the scenes, I had asked Jeff Williams, our TMC consultant to arrange the ideas that he and I had been working on to merge a beautiful “folky” Inspirational pop song with the simple, joyful Nigerian hymn that I had discovered.  Both songs had musical grooves that worked together so well – and they both possessed a simplicity that spoke to the occasion.  After that rehearsal with Joe, Jeff and I worked on concretizing the ideas for the arrangement, and then Jeff went to work.

Jeff Williams

Jeff arranged, sent and re-sent his musical ideas and mps flying over the internet to both Bryan Ashley, the organist of The Mother Church and me so that we could all get the arrangement just right for the keyboards, the bass part, the drummers’ participation and yours truly.

I have to digress and tell you about Jeff Williams.  He is our special consultant to the musicians at TMC (The Mother Church in Boston).  We have worked with Jeff consistently over the past year, but before he came along, we really needed some help!  The church had purchased brand new Kurzweil digital keyboards for each church (we hold services in two churches).

Bryan Ashley, the organist of TMC and I were very excited about the expansion of musical possibilities by using these keyboards on a regular basis.  But, these were complex, state-of-the art instruments that came with a very steep learning curve.  We needed a professional to help us learn these instruments and teach us about their capabilities.  Help!

We went looking for that person, and we found Jeff.

Jeff is a lot of things.  He is a total musician.  He has his own studio, Blue Leopard Audio in Dracut MA. He is an Assistant Professor in the Electronic Production and Design department at Berklee College of Music.  He records and plays gigs of all kinds from rock bands to… you name it.  He is a single dad of an adorable 11 year-old daughter, Casey, who lives with him.  And Jeff is also an organist at Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford, MA.  He’s funny, funky and also possesses a complete reverence and respect for the church services and their music.

But here’s the thing:  when we found Jeff, we gave a little basic background of what we were doing at the church with music, why we had purchased the digital keyboards, etc.  He asked a few questions and then said, “Yeah, this sounds great.  I really want to help you guys.  And by the way, I worked for Kurzweil for 12 years as a Sound Designer and created some of the programming on your new PC3X keyboard.  Oh, and I recorded some of the pianos in Synthogy Ivory, the industry-leader in virtual piano instruments —  that’s the sample piano software you guys bought to use with the keyboards… This will be fun!”

Wow!  With Jeff, we were working with a Kurzweil expert on the exact instruments that we would be playing – with some of the very piano sounds he recorded!  (To learn exactly what sample technology is, read Peter Link’s 3- part series “On Sampling”)

So Jeff came on board to not only teach us how to use the instruments, but also to program them for specific musical projects and to also perform with us on special occasions.

Jeff was a spectacular answer to the information and instruction that we needed at TMC.  And we found him right across the street from the church at Berklee – in our very own backyard!

OK, I know… this is supposed to be about African Drumming at Thanksgiving… but it IS!  Jeff provided an important framework for us to bring the African drums to life in our church service.    Next up:  Part 3: Oy!  Logistics, Permissions and Switzerland, Oh My!

Jeff accompanies a next-generation star – his daughter Casey – on his Kurzweil keyboard.

This concludes Part 2
Read Part 1: The Drummers and Joe
Read Part 3: Oy! Logistics, Permissions and Switzerland, Oh My!
Read Part 4: A Joyful Chaos!
Read Part 5: Drums In Church — Some Concluding Thoughts


Julia Wade is a Recording Artist and Director of Digital Sheet Music

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Entry filed under: Church Music, Inspiration, Inspirational Music, Inspiratus, Performance, Practice & Performance: Working It Out, Spiritual Thinkers. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Djembe Thanksgiving – Part 1 Mr. Kanamori’s “Children Full of Life”

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