Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Living Editor
Famed drummer Keith Carlock played for the packed Ford Auditorium with the Berry Jazz Band on March 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Carlock has recorded and toured with numerous groups and musicians such as Walter Becker, John Mayer, Sting, Steely Dan, James Taylor, TOTO, Christopher Cross, Donald Fagen, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, The Blues Brothers Band, Mike Stern, Leni Stern, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Richard Bona, Chris Botti, Wayne Krantz, Rudder, Harry Belafonte, Oz Noy, Larry Carlton, Clay Aiken, Rascal Flatts, Paula Abdul and Grover Washington.
Carlock came to Berry on Thursday and participated in one dress rehearsal with the Berry Jazz Band and one rehearsal with the small ensemble before the jazz concert. Playing the arrangements of Steely Dan’s songs for a jazz band was a new experience for Carlock too — he had only played the original versions on the stage.
“For him to come in and do those new arrangements with the big band was a totally new experence for him too,” John David, director of jazz and percussion studies, said. “It was a neat experience for him, too, to do something different. To have one of the best in the world do it with us, that’s pretty amazing.”
While at Berry, Carlock also gave an hour clinic on the drums to any students who wanted to learn from him. Around fifty students attended, and many of them were not percussionists, but other student musicians who wanted to learn from Carlock’s expertise.
David said that it took a year to coordinate the concert, and they didn’t finalize the date until February. This was largely due to scheduling difficulties between Berry and Carlock.
“He’s one of my favorite musicians,” David said. “As far as his ability to communicate and to play, it is so clear and communicative that anyone can understand it. He’s everything I would want to have as a clinician and a guest artist.”
David said he wanted students to meet him and realize how normal his life is despite touring with world class musicians. He has a wife and three children who he lives with while he’s not playing gigs. His practice, his ability and the way he thinks elevate him as a musician.
“He’s a world class player and a world class person,” David said.
In addition to playing with Berry’s jazz band, Carlock played with a small ensemble of professional musicians made up of visiting musicians and Berry staff members. David said that Carlock doesn’t normally play at colleges.
“I think it’s the best thing we’ve done in the Berry Jazz Program to bring him here,” David said. “It’s a glimpse into what making music at the highest level does for the human experience. And hearing it live is pretty cool. Doing it live is even better.”
Junior Nicole Harris was one of the students in the jazz band who got the opportunity to play with Carlock live on stage. She has been in the Jazz Ensemble for two years. Harris said this was the first time they have played a band’s music with a member of that band as a guest artist.
“Keith Carlock was awesome,” Harris said. “It was amazing to perform with him because you can really tell he loves music. It’s truly his passion. It elevates him to another level.”
Paolo Fransisco, a freshman music minor, attended the clinic and the jazz concert.
“Keith Carlock is a crazy one on drums,” Francisco said. “Probably Berry’s best event that we could have. For Berry to have someone of that magnitude come and play with the jazz band is huge. It’s a different aura in there.”
Francisco said he did a good job of explaining his thought process and answering student questions during the clinic.
Sophomore Timothy Wooley has been playing drums for nine years, and has gone to numerous concerts, but Carlock was the most impressive drummer he has ever seen perform live.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Wooley said. “It was a good experience and it taught me a lot about what it is like to play drums professionally. It allowed me to meet a really cool guy with lots of skills related to things I enjoy.”
Wooley said he also learned a lot of the headspace which is necessary for improvisation and professional drumming as a whole.
David would love to have more events like this in the future. Next year he would like to do a concert focusing on a great jazz singer.