Lately I’ve been on a Jojo Mayer kick. A friend of mine casually commented that I had exhibited a smidge of his flavor after watching a video of me playing some unorthodox bass and snare combinations. I believe his exact words were “That sounds like something Jojo Mayer would play.” I assume the motivation behind his comment was simply due to the fact that the odd-time sequences I came up with were meant to coincide with a DJ. As much as I appreciated that complement I know that I am light-years away from being anywhere near Jojo Mayer in any sense of the word. I would even venture to use the term “infinite” to describe the vast difference between myself and the master. That said I was motivated to take a closer look at this amazing player whom I had shamelessly neglected up until now.
First I viewed some of his videos on YouTube. This included both live performances and drum clinics. I was immediately blown away. Not only is Jojo Mayer a great performer he is also a veritable encyclopedia of drum history. One trip to his website (http://www.jojomayer.com/) reveals a bio that describes his band’s contributions and diversity: Within that format, NERVE [his band] assimilated a wide spectrum of electronic styles from old school Jungle, Dub Step and Glitch beats to Minimal and Tech House and anything that could escape the confines of genre. In the process, the group managed to acquaint a new audience with improvised music for the first time and ultimately bring the Jazz tradition of improvisation, innovation, driving rhythms and stylistic evolution to the digital age.
It would seem that Jojo Mayer and his band NERVE are pioneers in bridging the gap between the nuances of traditional jazz and the heartbeat-driven pulse of club music. This is a highly original approach to either genre. In any (and every) video Jojo Mayer’s chops are immediately evident when watching him perform. Blazing precision and a brilliant sense of groove are clearly the fundamentals of his style. He is also a fine teacher whose philosophy can be utilized by drummers at any level. His sound advice of “Practice what you can’t play. If you sound good while practicing you’re not getting any better” resonates.
As an author Jojo Mayer has published a 2-disc set titled “Jojo Mayer: Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer, Part I and II.” One DVD presents tips for hand techniques and the other focuses on the foot. Both are Amazon Best-Sellers. Perhaps it was Modern Drummer who summed up the genius of Jojo Mayer when they wrote that he was quote “…destined for ‘Drum God’ status.” Even if it’s totally off the mark it is a privilege to be mentioned in the same sentence as such a highly regarded drummer. Now I’m headed back to the practice room to earn a smidge of justifiable respect.