The Montreal Drum Fest is a certainly a highlight of the drum season. Perennially featuring top international talent playing a great-sounding venue in Canada’s most exciting city, it’s always a joy to attend. 2011 was no exception.
Prominent among the high-calibre performers was a stellar collection of SABIAN endorsers. Canadian Adrian Bent (Drake), Cuban-born Jazz star Ignacio Berroa (Dizzy Gillespie, Ignacio Berroa Quartet), internationally renowned percussionist Ray Yslas (Sinverguanza, Christine Aguilera), and show-stopping young German endorser Moritz Mueller (The Intersphere) each delivered dynamic, compelling sets that the audience clearly appreciated.
Ignacio Berroa was the first SABIAN artist to perform. Playing with his quartet mid-afternoon Saturday, their Afro-Cuban tinged Jazz was ideal for warming up Montreal’s blustery fall weather and kicking the festival into high gear. Ignacio engaged easily with his audience, and demonstrated a number of Afro-Cuban techniques and how he applies them to the Jazz idiom. Performing with Montreal musicians Jean-Pierre Zanella on Saxophone, Steve Amirault on Piano and Remi-Jean LeBlanc on Bass, this was a band that was tight, and swung. Montreal residents also had the additional pleasure of four performances over two nights by Ignacio and his quartet at Montreal’s venerable Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill.
Ignacio was followed by Ray Yslas and Samuel Torres. Both are master percussionists who enriched the Festival with their immense talent on percussion. It was clear to all why Yslas is held in such high esteem by major television, film and music producers, who hire him for high-intensity gigs like American Idol, the Grammy Awards show and film soundtracks such as Sex and the City. Yslas also performs and records regularly with Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks and Pepe Aguilar, to name but a few, and is a regular with the Emmy Awards house band and the George Lopez Show house band. Ray’s performance was a wonderful opportunity for the Montreal audience to see and hear SABIAN cymbals in a percussion set-up.
Canadian Adrian Bent closed the show Saturday performing as part of the Yamaha Groove Hour band. Adrian is a Gospel disciple who plays with gorgeous touch, wondrous finesse and plenty of excitement, and his heavenly gospel chops blend seamlessly with street-smart urban grooves, like those he plays with Canadian rapper sensation Drake.
It would be safe to say that no one in attendance late in the day Sunday knew what to expect when Moritz Mueller took the stage. Moritz is a young German drummer who plays with young German rock band, The Intersphere. Well, judging by the multiple standing ovations Moritz received during his show-stopping performance, they liked him! Moritz plays with power and finesse both, and he deals out scintillating drum parts to the Intersphere’s melodic, energetic rock tunes. His playing is smart, and surprising, and he doesn’t fall back on tired rock clichés. And his 16” custom hats were also a hit. More Moritz in North America, please!
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Drum Festival, so we look forward to an even bigger, better show – which is difficult to imagine with the excitement from 2011 still coursing through our veins. Huge thanks to Ralph Angelillo and his tireless organizers and volunteers. Hope to see you all there in O-12!
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