Mov­ing to his own beat

An­drews and trum­peter cre­ate “Rock Mu­sic”


Car­bon­ear na­tive Cur­tis An­drews is ad­dicted to mak­ing beats. Since grad­u­at­ing from Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate in the mid-1990s, An­drews has de­voted most of his life to his pas­sion for drums, and he con­tin­ues that love af­fair with his lat­est re­lease, “Rock Mu­sic.”

Far from be­ing rock mu­sic in the tra­di­tional sense, the al­bum was recorded by An­drews and trum­peter Pa­trick Boyle in St. John’s with record­ing en­gi­neer Don El­lis in July, 2007. Over two days, the pair recorded oo­dles of im­pro­vi­sa­tions fea­tur­ing Boyle solo­ing over An­drews’ con­stantly evolv­ing rhythms.

“ We play to­gether a lot of times in dif­fer­ent groups,” says An­drews of his mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion with Boyle, who also plays some bass and ga­jda, a Croa­t­ian bag­pipe in­stru­ment, on the al­bum. “ We get along re­ally well, and over the years we’d do duets at dif­fer­ent times, im­pro­vis­ing duets.”

While the record­ing was made in 2007, it was only last year An­drews got around to sort­ing through the tracks and edit­ing the im­pro­vi­sa­tions into shorter pieces.

“I took the best el­e­ments and iso­lated those, or dropped off parts that went too long, and did a lit­tle bit of edit­ing,” says An­drews. “ What you hear is what we did, and now it’s out fi­nally, which is awe­some.”

The pair ob­tained fund­ing from the New­found­land and Labrador Arts Coun­cil to re­lease the CD, which is pack­aged in a card­board sleeve - an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly op­tion, adds An­drews.

Mu­si­cally, the al­bum has a strong jazz in­flu­ence, which owes much to Boyle’s trum­pet play­ing. Com­bined with some of An­drews’ ex­otic use of per­cus­sion in­stru­ments and his ten­dency to draw upon mu­si­cal in­flu­ences span­ning the globe, some of the funkier num­bers re­call a more stripped­down ver­sion of famed jazz trum­peter Miles Davis’ jazz-fu­sion ex­per­i­ments in the 1970s.

Many of Davis’ record­ings used per­cus­sion in­stru­ments not of­ten as­so­ci­ated with jazz mu­sic, as does this al­bum. Like Davis, Boyle is also not afraid to elec­tron­i­cally en­hance the sound of his trum­pet.

How­ever, the duo also dab­bles in more ab­stract, avant-garde ter­ri­tory, cre­at­ing mys­te­ri­ous sound­scapes where the ori­gin of sound is of­ten un­clear.

The al­bum is ded­i­cated to Ed Black­well and Don Cherry, a drum-and-trum­pet pair who made sev­eral duo record­ings in the ‘ 60s and ‘70s, of­ten draw­ing upon in­flu­ences nearand-far to cre­ate mu­sic with a strong in­ter­na­tional flavour.

Ty­ing in with the al­bum’s ti­tle, all tracks are named af­ter com­mu­ni­ties across New­found­land and Labrador, in­clud­ing Lawn, South Dildo, Fla­trock, and Spread Ea­gle.

“ We started giv­ing names to the im­pro­vi­sa­tions we’d done that sort of, maybe, sounded like that place, or other times, we’d come up with the name first,” says An­drews.

An­drews has stud­ied per­cus­sion in Africa and In­dia, and along the way he’s be­come fa­mil­iar with a va­ri­ety of ex­otic per­cus­sion in­stru­ments. On “Rock Mu­sic,” he uses cal­abash wa­ter drums, which are mu­si­cal bowls that cre­ate a “pure tone.” An­drews recorded them in a bath­room dur­ing the ses­sions.

An­drews also used his African boba drum, which he de­scribes as be­ing the size of a big bar­rel, with an­te­lope skin on the top. The lis­tener can also hear con­gas, hand and fin­ger cym­bals from In­dia, a fire bell he may have bor­rowed on a long-term ba­sis from York Uni­ver­sity, and a me­chan­i­cal bird.

The ac­cu­mu­la­tion of so many per­cus­sion in­stru­ments speaks to An­drews’ pas­sion for drum­ming.

“Rhythm is the prime fac­tor in life,” says An­drews. “It’s nat­u­ral for one to grav­i­tate to­wards that. What makes some peo­ple more in­clined to­wards it is a feel­ing, or the joy, I guess, you get from en­gag­ing your­self in rhyth­mic ac­tiv­ity. Drum­ming and the ex­plo­ration of rhyth­mic cul­tures, which I like to do, puts you in a deeper con­nec­tion with (rhythm). It’s fun to hit things.”

An­drews, who splits much of his time be­tween the is­land and Bri­tish Columbia, will soon be trav­el­ling to In­dia to con­tinue his stud­ies of clas­si­cal In­dian drum­ming. Then in April, he will be lead­ing a group of rhythm en­thu­si­asts to the West African coun­try of Ghana. There, the group will spend three weeks in a vil­lage study­ing drum­ming and danc­ing. It will be his sec­ond such trip, fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful jour­ney last April.

An­drews’ says “Rock Mu­sic” will soon be avail­able in mp3 form on iTunes, while phys­i­cal copies of the al­bum can be pur­chased at Fred’s Records in St. John’s.

Zach Tut­tle, left, Crys­tal Lee Jones, Justin Stone, Am­ber Samms and teacher Pa­tri­cia Ge­orge will all be rep­re­sent­ing As­cen­sion Col­le­giate at the Plas­tics are For­ever In­ter­na­tional Youth Sum­mit in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia this March. The stu­dents, who are mem­bers of the school’s Gaia en­vi­ron­men­tal group, will be ex­am­in­ing ways to re­duce the use of plas­tics in their com­mu­nity.

Pa­trick Boyle, left, Cur­tis An­drews, and Don El­lis pose at El­lis’ St. John’s-based stu­dio. An­drews, a na­tive of Car­bon­ear, and Boyle re­cently re­leased a new CD of im­pro­vised mu­sic called “Rock Mu­sic.”

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