What can the music be without the drums? Not only guarding the base line for the songs, controling the rhythm and giving a specific pattern to it, but also to give more taste, feel and even the character to the song. The same goes in jazz. There are many drummers who have given a lot of contributions to make the songs appear as tasty and infectious as the way we like it. There are many standout jazz drummers from time to time, and if we’re looking at the names for at least the last half century, we have to mention Harvey Mason as one of them.
Harvey Mason has been doing it for 50 years now. He has been playing drums in all kinds of fields, but he is remembered mostly as an amazing jazz drummer. Mason has a tremendous career and has played with many artists over the decades, including Bob James, Lee Ritenour, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Barbra Streisand, James Brown, Sergio Mendes to London Symphony Orchestra, just to say the least. He has had the privilege to perform together with the legendary Duke Ellington and Errol Garner when he was just started on his onstage jazz career in the late 60’s. Harvey has been there, experiencing, tasting and living with jazz for so long. Nathan East said “Harvey Mason is probably the most recorded and most influential drummer/percussionist in this genre.” And that’s very true.
Harvey is one of the member of the supergroup Fourplay alongside with Bob James, Nathan East and three different guitarists over the years, from Lee Ritenour to Larry Carlton and now the newest member Chuck Loeb. His reputation as a superb jazz drummer who can play just about any genres fits perfectly with the style and concept of Fourplay, and we can see him still exist in the group until today. Together with Fourplay he received Grammy nominations and “The Best Group Assignation” award. He was also given four”First Place Awards” from Modern Drummers’ Studio Poll and three “Most Valuable Player” trophies from NARAS. In the year 2000 he was dubbed “Best Percussionist” by Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards. Still, with so many achievements and experiences, he appears to be a really friendly and down to earth man as he’s always been.
Not only playing, he also cares about raising up young talents from all over the world, including Indonesia, as he’s become the producer for Rafi, a phenomenal young drummer since he was still 9 years old. Harvey has appeared in several edition of Java Jazz Festival, including the most recent Java Jazz Festival 2010. And we can never have him enough. We like to see him coming and playing more and more in years to come. And what a moment it was when we actually got the chance to invite Harvey Mason to do an interview in our corner at the media room of Java Jazz Festival.
You have been known as one of the best drummer of jazz all time. How do you see the progress of jazz drumming so far after you’ve been doing it for more than 4 decades?
It’s progressing in tremendeous amount. Technically the guys are watching videos and so much more instruction that drummers are proggressed in great place of a very technical.. technically sound.. so it’s become pretty amazing what the guys are doing now. so it’s defenitely progressing.