Jazz Drummer Brooke Sofferman has released two strong albums "Modesty's Odyssey" and, his most recent, "The Green Between." They feature the same core musicians,
including Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, formerly of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Both collections include a nice blend of Bop and straight-ahead Jazz influences at
work in the music along with a distinctive group vibe that allows for the inclusion of individual tastes and preferences.
Hal: Why Jazz?
Brooke: As drummer, jazz drumming allows me the most freedom
and interpretation out of all of the styles I've played. It's also the most spontaneous and creative, and really requires you to draw from your collective experience as a musician, and requires you to react to what is happening around you from the other musicians.
I love rock, pop, funk, etc., and they require a very different mentality. They require you to "stick to a specific part" more so then jazz, and that's challenging in a different way.
Hal: When did the realization hit that you were good enough to play professionally?
Brooke: Wait a minute.....are you saying I'm good enough to play professionally?....... Seriously, I began performing "professionally" the same year I began
playing drumset, playing musicals around the region and playing gigs with different bands. I never really came to any realization about a professional level, I just took gigs, regardless. Sometimes I'd be in over my head, but it was a tremendous learning experience. I believe the best way to realize whether you are ready to play out, is to just do it. As long as you are not going to ruin the gig for the rest of the musicians, it's the best way to learn from others who are already on the scene.
Hal: Who where your main influences?
Brooke: My influences differ for composers, players and drummers. Sometimes, you get lucky and find some that encompass all three! As a drummer, my main influences are from the post-bop school. Tony Williams is one of my biggest influences. His innovation of timekeeping and interaction was key in my listening development. The way he played 4 on the floor with the hi-hat freed up his other limbs and his technique was unmatched! Elvin Jones is another.....his huge, round, rolling
triplet time is really unbelievable. The space between his notes is the beauty of his sound. I've heard many emulate him, but they never seem to capture his sound and spirit.
Also, Jack DeJohnette....he is sort of a potpourri of different drummers like Elvin and Tony, but with his own distinct voice. He's been described as clothes in
a dryer, constantly shifting over each other, switching directions, and also a prize fighter,
dancing around the ring, throwing unexpected combinations. I also can't forget to mention one of my mentors when I was at NEC, Bob Moses. He has a very unique voice and an incredibly deep groove. He inspires me every time I hear him. I also love Max
Roach, Art Blakey, Jo Jones, Philly Jo, Buddy Rich and Pete LaRoca. Newer drummers like Bill Stewart, Jeff Tain Watts and Jeff Ballard are inspirational as well.
I'm also influenced by great composers/players like Miles, Wayne Shorter, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Jerry Bergonzi, whom I've
had the pleasure of working with a lot.
Hal: How did you meet Jerry Bergonzi?
Brooke: I met Jerry at New England Conservatory when I was getting my Master's, even though I'd been a fan of Jerry's for years. I was in one of his ensembles and I began bringing original tunes in to the sessions and Jerry seemed into the music. So I began studying with him and bringing in a bassist and just playing my tunes as a trio with Jerry. His understanding of music is so vast, it's almost daunting. He is like a jazz
computer: in goes the information, the questions and the problems, and out comes a simple (sometimes) cohesive answer! His sound is so distinctive, I immediately know I'm listening to Jerry.....he has this huge sound with a golden, tubular coating around
it. Also, Jerry is a great drummer, and his sax playing is so drummistic! He always knows where the time is and is able to float over it, or dig in deep. He is also a great piano player, composer and educator, which is very apparent in his playing. Honestly, if I had my pick of any saxophonist in the world to play my music, I would choose Jerry, hands
Hal: Do you expect to continue to working with Jerry and the other musicians from your first two CDs?
Brooke: As I mentioned before, Jerry fits my music so perfectly it'll be hard to break from that, but I don't want to pigeon-hole myself. If I feel someone else would be better for a specific project, I'll use them. I'm also considering some different
instrumentation for my next CD's also. What does the immediate future hold for you? I hope to keep gigging around with lots of different players around the country and hopefully some international tours. I've played a bunch of festivals in the States but I want to expand to Europe and beyond....I just need to find funding to get the band over there. I also hope to keep taking steps forward in the recording industry and composing as much as I have been the past few years. I've been very fortunate to receive dozens of
rave reviews from my first CD "Modesty's Odyssey" and the new one on Summit Records, "The Green Between." Summit has done a great job promoting the CD and
reviews have appeared in Jazziz, Jazz Times, Downbeat, Modern Drummer and the Boston Globe to name a few. It's also charted in the top 40 in the country for jazz releases of 2002. I plan to keep taking steps forward, and I hope my music does the same.
Email Brooke: Skangadang@aol.com
The Green Between
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