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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Josh talks and plays 1920s' percussion - April 25/26

Midnight Saturday in the BSH Tyneside heartland, 18:00 CDT in Iowa, USA. Drummer Josh Duffee was in lockdown, just like the rest of us, as he extended an invitation to join him, virtually, of course,  at his Davenport home. This evening Josh was to present 1920s' Percussion - The Hot Orchestral Instruments.

To call our host an 'enthusiast' and an 'authority' doesn't tell half the story. A collector of vintage percussion instruments, historian, researcher, tutor, performer (small jazz combo to symphony orchestra engagements and everything in between), Duffee lives and breathes percussion. 

From the comfort of his home, and with the invaluable assistance of wife Crystal and son Chauncey, Josh Duffee once again lived the dream talking drums, playing drums (demonstrating the art of 'dropping bombs'), recounting stories, just as we did seven days earlier, we were watching a kid let loose in a sweet shop (candy store). Bass drum, toms (including a Chinese tom-tom which belonged to the late Mike Durham, director of the Whitley Bay Jazz Festival, now known as the Classic Jazz Party), timpani, wood blocks, bock-a-da-bocks, a rare case vibraphone (Josh owns one!), cymbals this, cymbals that (drummers - have you got a 'Billy Gladstone' in your armoury?), pitch chimes etc. 

The masterclass' first musical illustration - Ellington's Ring Dem Bells - saw Josh attempting to cover the parts of Sonny Greer and Charlie Barnet, pitch chimes et al. It sounded fine to the untutored ear yet our host confessed he was mortified that he hit one wrong chiming note! Profuse apologies were offered to the extent that Josh suggested he'd perhaps play it again at the end of the one hour show and do his darndest to get it right! 

Much reverential name-checking of drummers - Greer, Barnet, Vic Berton, Chauncey Morehouse, Chick Webb and an excruciating story of Josh losing - and saving - a tooth in pursuit of his art! Red Nichols' Harlem Twist (Chauncey Morehouse), Zutty Singleton on Fireworks (Armstrong's Hot Fives), Josh dazzled with his finger-tips' command of twenties' percussion developments. Online comment came thick and fast as musicians and non-musicians either side of the Atlantic let Josh know they were diggin' it. Our multi-tasking host glanced at his cellphone...Ah, great! Yeah, lots of folks watching, that's great! Any questions, just let me know and I'll be happy to answer them!  It was gone one in the morning here in Britain as Josh began to wind-up. In common with musicians around the world Josh's performance income has dried up, if you so choose, you can make a financial contribution (however great or small) to help our man from Davenport get by in these unprecedented times (see photo). It had been an education, click on the link to see Josh Duffee in action.   
Russell  

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