Adrianne Greenbaum is known as both a classical flutist and clinician and as the leading klezmer flutist performing today. She is founder of two ensembles, FleytMuzik and The Klezical Tradition klezmer band where she is also pianist and leader of Yiddish dance. She is on the faculties of KlezKamp and KlezKanada, has taught at Klezmerquerque and Boxwood, and has presented master classes and workshops in universities and conservatories across the US. For their European debut FleytMuzik was a charter performer at the KlezMore Festival in Vienna.
Greenbaum has also performed with other well known klezmer ensembles and collaborated with numerous cantors as both pianist and flutist. Adrianne is also a published arranger and composer. Her self-published klezmer compositions include solo flute repertoire as well as an arrangement of traditional klezmer with flute solo and orchestra.
Greenbaum is taking on the revival of flute in klezmer by performing in a strict traditional style and performing on vintage flutes from the 19th century to portray an accurate representation of the sound of the old klezmorim.
Adrianne received her Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin College Conservatory her Master of Music from the Yale School of Music. After many years with the New York City Ballet Orchestra as well as teaching at various universities including Wesleyan and Yale, she is currently Principal Flutist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor at Mount Holyoke College where she teaches flute as well as the 5-College klezmer band.
Francisco Aguabella once told me, “I do not play the drum, I have lived the drum”. Remembering that phrase, it’s great when one’s daily line of work is drumming for a living, teaching drum lessons and or even selling drums and miscellaneous supplies to drummers, or as a musician full time.
Michael Pluznick is such a drum master, who has been learning and teaching drumming all his life. What a dream job! Any drummer would actually die for! Michael is constantly traveling worldwide, teaching drumming classes and playing with the legends of drums for example djembe drum legend Bolokada Conde.
Michael was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but he presently resides in Delray Beach, Florida. Michael travels extensively to Asia and Africa and soon will be voyaging on his third trip to Cuba soon!
I became familiar with Michael when a group of young drummers decided to go to Cuba in 1985 for a venture. They wanted to learn more, had exhausted their resources in the San Francisco Bay Area and decided to go to Cuba.
During this trip to Cuba, they studied with the masters and brought back videos that knocked everyone’s socks off. I was one of the sponsors of the group, as an aspiring Latin percussionist also wanting to know more and more.
Michael and his group recorded the famed Changuito timbales solo in front of the hotel in Cuba, saw the show by Juan De Dios, quinto conga drummer and dancer, and met Pello El Afrokan who is the inventor of the Latin rhythm Mozambique, made famous by Pello, pianist Eddie Palmieri and timbalero legend Manny Oquendo.
Pello then invited them to his apartment for batá lessons and a rumba, with elder batá legend, Amado Gomez present. At a certain point, the legendary Afro Cuban rumba singer Carlos Embale walked in. There is a video of this session that might be recovered in the future. I no longer have this video personally.
Michael and the group also met and associated with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba and batá elder Carlos Aldama, who was the lead batá drummer for the Cojunto Folklorico. Today, Carlos Aldama resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sometimes on a whim, I have wondered, that if that trip inspired musicians to move to the USA and the San Francisco Bay Area.Let’s see what Mr. Pluznick has to say:
Les Moncada – Michael what is your family background.
Michael Pluznick – My family is of Russian descent, via Poland. My grandfather moved here to the USA prior to World War II.
When was the first time you actually heard percussion and realized that it interested you and that you would have a love for drums?
My father was able to get us free trips to Puerto Rico in the 60s when it was first becoming a tourist location. I wandered on the beach and heard drummers there for the first time as a small child. At our hotel, there was a band with a bongo player. I will never forget one Christmas there they were giving out presents and they gave my friend some tack head bongos. I was so disappointed I did not get them! Hounded my father for several months until he was able to find me a Mexican tack head drum and later he got me one with actual hardware.
How did you start studying drums, who were your teachers?
At the time I first started playing in 1967. There were no Cuban teachers in my area in New Jersey, so I took drum set lessons and learned basic fundamentals from a drum set teacher at a nearby music store. I had no technique, no slap and tone but I loved how it felt to play and practiced to Santana and Olatunji records.
I played in several bands as a thunder drummer not knowing how brutal I was! In 1975 I was at art school at RISD in Providence Rhode Island playing in the school jazz band. I met a local conga player, someone who told me I needed to study, that I would never learn, if I did not listen to people better then me.
At first I thought he was crazy. And then I had an epiphany, a realization that I had two possible paths I could partake on; one as a percussionist and hand drummer or one as an artist. I realized the path as a drummer would be incredibly difficult but in that moment of realization I decided to drop out of art school and pursue a path as a drummer.
I contacted a close friend of mine who was a very good player, George Terzis for lessons. He showed me how to hit the drum correctly and told me there was an actual language to playing drums. He introduced me to Gail Philipo in Boston. She had studied with several master drummers and she was able to give me a solid foundation in the concepts of traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa.
After Boston I went to California where I studied full time with Simbo (Craig Goodman) as well as several local teachers there at the time including lessons with Marcus Gordan, Tobagi, Luis Cespedes among others.
My son moved to New York where I visited often and I started studying with John Amira who taught me Haitian drumming as well as Afro Cuban drumming for a few years. He wrote everything out in box notation so he got me into that as well.
I got a job as the percussion salesman at Haight Ashbury Music Center, (San Francisco) after the change of owners from Chickens That Sing Music. That was 35 years ago!
While I was at the shop I would often practice on the many conga drums that were there. Armando Peraza would stop in regularly and we would have a jam session. He would quiz me on each rhythm I would play for him and then he would solo. The shop would completely fill up with a hundred or more people every time he got down to business! It was an amazing experience.
Armando had a friend an African American friend named Ray Gardener (he wrote” Dance Sister Dance” for Santana). Ray would come in often to the shop and he invited me to record with him and Raphael Ramirez in the studio, which was my first experience recording. He and I had intellectual debates on traditional music vs. making world music combining traditional with non traditional.
Tell me about your trip to Cuba.
I had a friend named Jerry Shilgi, who passed away a while back. I met Jerry in the yard at Sproul Plazz in Berkeley California where there were jam sessions on Saturday and Sundays. I would not call them a drum circle, but something like that. Jerry introduced me to my teacher Simbo who played both traditional Afro Cuban and West African styles.
Jerry was connected to everyone and everything at that time.
We became roommates in China town in San Francisco. He found out about the trip to Cuba. No one we knew had gone before and it was a no brainer for me. I had to go.
I was able to acquire one of the first non commercial video camcorders to film with. We went officially as members of an educational group going to the Jazz Festival in Varadero (Cuba). While we were in the coffee shop at our hotel the first day we were there we saw the legendary Pello El Afrokan. We were there with Rob Holland and Bret Golin.
We asked him if we could study with him (Pello) while we were there and he agreed to not only teach us, but he basically brought us around and introduced us to everyone in the music and drum scene you can imagine, as well as set up classes with us for rumba, mozambique and batá. We even had a rumba with Carlos Embale singing in Pello’s apartment!
We were able to sit in at the Saturday Rumba with Conjunto Folklorico Nacional as well as many of the famous night clubs and bands that were playing there at the time, as, Pello was so well respected. We barely slept and I remember several times passing out on the bed with all my clothes still on and waking up early with Pello waiting for us outside.
How did you get involved with the djembe drum?
My teacher Simbo insisted we study West African rhythms as he taught us that all rhythms on congas were some how rooted in and related to West Africa.
At the time there were no commercial djembes available so we were taught to make and skin our own drums.
Also, one thing a lot of people today do not realize is that in the mid-late 70’s there were no internet, CD’s or information readily or easily available. Plus most teachers were very secretive at the time for various reasons.
The rhythms, parts and arrangements were simply not out there like they are today. There were very few records available and there were not a lot of groups performing traditional music from Cuba, Africa or Haiti.
Professional percussionists and die hard students would learn any rhythm or percussion piece that came through. There was so little information compared to today. So therefore, many of us learned and played whatever came to us, or whatever we could find. There was not as big of a separation in styles as there is today. And if you wanted to get work you needed to be versatile in many styles.
Michael, who have you performed with or studied with, djembe wise?
I started with Simbo, then I took lessons with whoever would come through locally in the Bay Area including a talented griot named Karamba Diabate. When Abdoulaye Diakité came to the Bay Area, things changed drastically as he was open to and taught both women and white people. I personally believe that Abdoulaye is almost single handily responsible for the birth and explosion of the djembe in the USA. His philosophy is “Djembe Bara” or “unity of the drum”. He spent a lot of time in Santa Cruz where Drumskull Drums was born and many teachers came out of.
The next wave of djembe related music and drumming came with Mamady Keita who I studied with, in group scenarios as well as Mabiba. Wade Peterson a student of both also tutored me regularly for a couple of years.
I moved to Maui, Hawaii where I got to study with Mohamed Camara, M’Bemba Bangoura, Dame Gueye and many others who would come through on extended stays.
When I moved back to the Bay Area about 15 years ago I was able to study with and then perform with several groups. The most notable is Bolokada Conde from Guinea West Africa.
While I was living in the Bay Area, my chiropractor told me he wanted to record some music. I had a friend who was an engineer at Bear West Studios in downtown San Francisco. I took the chiropractor to the studio and helped organize the session. This was the start of me producing and recording regularly in studios. I was eventually able to play on several rock and pop albums and created several of my own recording studios and music and drumming CDs over the years.
I recorded and performed with members of The Grateful Dead, Clarence Clemons (from Bruce Springsteen), The Tubes, Todd Rundgren and some other pop stars in the Bay Area over the years. In the 80’s i was able to get a recording deal on the Narada label for 4 CDs of my own world music combining traditional themes with western instrumentation as well. You can see and listen to samples of all my stuff on my website: www.michaelpluznick.com
I see that your travel all over the planet, which I think is great. Do you teach, give clinics and can you mention the different locations that you travel to, can you tell me more about this.
Yes, 25 years ago I started to travel to Asia and fell in love with it. I also started going to India on various pursuits. I started bringing my drums here, both congas and djembes and found the local pockets of friendly and curious drummers.
Most drummers here in Asia are talented and self taught, these days from the internet. One thing led to another and I started to share and teach wherever I went. People here are appreciative like I was and still am when someone shows me something I don’t know.
When I can I sit in with the local jazz or funk groups for fun. Of course the musicians are struggling here so it is not a great place to gig.
Michael who is your all time conga drummer?
My favorite conga layer who I actually played with is Armando [Peraza]. I also love his bongo work. My favorite recording conga player is Mongo Santamaria. I love Giovanni and Richard Flores. They have taken it to a whole new level. I used to listen to a lot of Los Papines, they were my favorite for a while, especially Luis. Then of course there is Patato! And Daniel Ponce.
How do you pick one? Thomas Cruz really has super cool stuff…there are so many fantastic and unbelievable players I love… but for me, what rocks my world is old school, deep pocket and groove. Maybe I am just getting old!
Who is your favorite bongo drummer?
Bongo… again it’s Armando and Dandy. I saw Karl do a bongo and an amazing bell solo the other day and I was quite impressed. I feel his playing has sky rocketed as well.
How about your favorite timbales drummer?
Timbales… I am an Orestes fan as well as Changuito. And I do love Chepito as well. He ripped in the day! The first time I saw Changuito was with Los Van Van in Cuba in 1985. I was filming them and standing behind him. I had no idea who he was in those days. Rob Holland did, but I did not. He was not an international sensation then.
Anyway, he did about a 15 minute solo and I filmed the whole thing. I had never heard anyone play like that except maybe Elvin Jones. So outside, so revolutionary”. All I can say is he blew me away!
Michael, who is your favorite djembe player?
Bolokada Conde and M’Bemba Bangoura for Guinea style; Abdoul Doumbia and Moussa Traore for Mali style; Dame Gueye for Senegalese; and Dr Jobi for Ivory Coast style. These are all older and some people consider “old school” style. There are several super hot young players who I listen to but I prefer to study with and play the older style(s).
Of all the drums and instruments you play, which is your favorite and why?
I cannot honestly say I have a favorite, I love congas, bongos, shekere and djembe. I practice and play as much as I can. These days, I suppose, because of the popularity of drum circles I get most of my students wanting to learn djembe so as far as work, it is almost always on djembe these days.
For me it is all related. When I study Malian music (I lived in Mali 2 times) I hear the roots and a direct undeniable connection to Afro-Cuban drumming. It is so plain and clear!
The 6/8 (or 12/8) bell, the root to all the drumming we do is in every drum music that comes out of the West African diaspora be it Cuban, Haitian, Brazilian or other regions in the new world. It is all connected and so are its instruments.
What is the future for master drummer, teacher Michael Pluznick? Recordings, lessons, travel?
Ha, ha, ha. Brother, I am not even close to mastering anything. Fortunately, I have contact to and I am able to study with masters, and I see them online.
Mastery is a far off place for me. I am happy and will always be happy to be a student of this fine art and I am motivated to continue learning and studying every day.
I feel I have very good methodology for sharing and teaching, I can help people so I teach. I continue to record projects whenever I can and whenever there is a opportunity. I love traveling and hopefully with God’s help I will continue to do so.
I would like to thank Michael Pluznick for his time with this interview due to his busy schedule and wish him the world of the best in the “spirit” of drumming for many years to come!
Valerie June’s songs should be put to good use in a society where beautiful and humane sometimes do not trump. Despite her music being for the most part interpretations of old songs, her interpretations feel very contemporary and cater to our urgencies. June sings and plays to our contemporary psychologies and our living place, the psychologies that come with American dwelling, and in doing so produces music that can heal.
The longer I’ve lived in America, the more I’ve been capable of deciding on what song is “beautiful” and what song is not. Beautiful’s definition in classroom English is one thing and in American it’s a whole other.
Once you’ve met several teachers, doctors, students, bus drivers, bartenders of different supposed races, each with a certain valid humane idea about what this society should be like, you’d like for beauty to simply be human.
You’d like to live in a society where the value of a human being can be felt at “Good Morning” or “Hello” and not at “I am a rich” or “I am of this race.” You know that collective action, politics, won’t fix this society, despite some good days, and so you keep it to yourself, as others do.
Humanity in the US is often found in music and it can be in June’s music. Take for example the song ‘Trials, Troubles, and Tribulations’, a bluegrass gospel classic, on her album Pushin’ Against The Stone. It’s a song sung by two voices, a game of T’s being expressed by two souls. We assume them to be kindred souls and that’s probably the correct way of going about it: voices up against the degradation of one’s soul. They sing the “I’ll be carried home by Jesus / And forever with him be” as their own to music playing that wants to resonate much more than pain can, and never do we hear any false triumph. Nor is there any slickness added to the song as most gospel is like today. It’s music that can be put to progressive cultural use. Despite the word Jesus and the dogmas that that name comes with, the song’s simplicity makes for a communion with a believer’s humanity.
Another one of her great songs is “Twined & Twisted”. We hear either echo in the song or someone else singing to very simple guitar chords. The songs is a long melody as we’d imagine songs to be during the antiquities – an Athenian or Egyptian woman playing a lyre as others dance a circle dance or feel their humanity.
The songs lyrics ‘shackle bound, but I still roam’ hit like an incredible perspective does, if one is open to wisdom. Again the song isn’t her own and she is interpreting it. Dolly Parton sang the song and that’s what’s so great about it; both a black woman and a white woman singing ‘got no place in this old world’ from the bottom of their hearts is really something.
Once you’ve walked the US, suburbs, cities, you often come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t remain in many ways. There’s a whole lot money but there’s something missing feeling wise. It shouldn’t be so.
What’s worse is when you enter private spaces you see what you were afraid of. What you meet is often actual sadness, depression, despite this being one of the happiest countries in the world according to certain lists.
June’s music’s grandeur is in the fact that the qualities of her music speak honestly and humanely to every human and make us happy.
Tobias Huber is one of the musicians behind the 1001 Ways project. He was born in Vevey in 1969. He received his first violin lessons from his father Klaus Huber an avant-garde composer.
From 1979 – 1984 Huber studied with Volker Biesenbender Mustapha Tettey Addy Ali Akbar Khan Sultan Khan and Zakir Hussain. During that time he traveled and studied in India. he also performed for a live TV concert broadcast for Amnesty International in Berne.
In the period of 1985-1998 Tobias Huber and his brother Michael Huber worked together on several music and puppetry projects. They performed at various international puppetry festivals
At the same time Tobias Huber worked with other musicians and dancers. In 1993 11 Ways released its album Live Moment with Hilarius Dauag.
In 1994 Huber worked on the CD production Paradiso Gregoriano with Jean Singgellos (Koch Records). The following year another collaboration with Singgellos followed Project Prophetizz.Huber also worked on music for TV ads including one for coffee machine maker Cacci.
11Ways recorded an album in1996 in Amsterdam with producer Paul Downs who had worked with Youssou N’Dour. 11 Ways also performed live throughout Switzerland and later collaborated in a series of concerts with the African group Farafina (Burkina Faso).
In 1999 Huber produced and engineered the CDs Myria and Tunga by Farafina at the 11 Ways Studio.
In 2 there were concerts and recordings with Hilarius Dauag (1001 Ways) featuring Barney Palm a former member of l;egendary Swiss band Brain ticket. that same year Huber recorded the CD Signs with Yvonne Guldimann.
World’s voices was released in 23 remixed by Jay Guru (Cafe del Mar). Huber participated as co-producer with Omega III of New York on the release of Nobilis Mysterium (Prophetizz). That same year11 Ways performed at the World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore Pakistan.
The Betel Nuts Brothers are a group of Pangcah aborigines from eastern Taiwan who blend traditional indigenous music with blues and Taiwanese folk. The group’s members come from all walks of life. Singer and guitarist Huegu is a construction worker; his brother Abi who sings and plays percussion; singer and jembe player Budu also works as a construction worker; and guitarist Docdoc is a surgeon.
The Betel Nuts Brothers was nominated for Golden Melody Award Taiwan’s most prestigious pop music award for their 23 release Hunters Who Lost Their Lands.
Tango singer Adriana Varela was born May 9, 1952 in Piñeiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since her artistic career began, Adriana Varela has taken the music of Argentina to the most important international tango festivals.
She has shared the stage with Paul Anka, Liza Minelli, Celia Cruz, Tito Puento, Arturo Sandoval, Daniela Mercury, Rita Marley, and Kenny G.
Adriana has participated as a guest in Joaquin Sabina’s recordings and is one of the main characters in the movie Tango by Carlos Saura.
Adriana Varela is possibly the most representative female tango artists worldwide.
Argentine pianist Adrian Iaies’ unique style can best be described as a fusion of traditional tango and contemporary jazz. In 2000 he was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the jazz category for his album LasTardecitas de Minton’s (Acqua Records). Throughout his extensive career he has toured extensively on both sides of the Atlantic having shared the stage with artists such as Ron Carter, Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, John Patitucci, Chucho Valdes, and Dino Saluzzi.
In November 2000, Iaies recorded a new solo record in Barcelona called Tango reflections which was released worldwide in April, 2001. He has toured extensively in promotion of this release including dates in the Spanish Jazz Festival, La Semana de Jazz Latino de Madrid, the Miami Film Festival, and the Festival Internacional de los 7 Lagos in Argentina.
Adrian D’Souza is a versatile drummer involved in the New York jazz circuit. Born in Bombay, India, he started his musical pursuits at the age of five, performing on national radio and television. After getting his B.A Economics from the Bombay University, he went on to take the drummers seat in the Louis Banks Quartet. His fascination with cultures and music of other countries led him to travel across the globe.
Over the years, Adrian has traveled to Africa, Middle East, Far East, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Europe and America. During these visits, he lived with the locals, assimilated the culture, studied the music, its ethnocity and the applications of specific rhythms. Adrian has performed at the Hasangatta festival in Bangalore which also featured Ali Akbar Khan and Grammy award winner Vishwa Mohan Bhut. Adrian d’Souza has worked with renowned Carnatic singer Rama Mani and mridangam maestro T.S. Mani from Bangalore.
Adrian D’Souza is now based in New York. He is a member of the International Association of Jazz Educators and a student of Peter Erskine. He works extensively with Roseanna Vitro. Adrian also works with Special EFX and Ratzo Harris . Besides studying and performing in and around the New York area , he has recorded with Roseanna Vitro, Jon Lucien, Special EfX, John Fedchock, Charles Pillow, Lao Tizer, Paranoise and The Indica Project.
Adrian has played with Art Davis, Eddie Gomez, Gary Bartz, John Hicks, Eddie Daniels, Ed Cherry, Mark Soskin, Chieli Minucci, Don Braden, Dave Mann, Gerald Veasley, Paul Keller, Chuck Bergeron, Jerry Brooks, Dave Kikoski , Shelly Berg and Mike Orta , who are among the most respected, famous jazz musicians in America.
In October 2003 he represented the Indian continent by performing in Johannesburg with the United Nations Jazz Orchestra featuring Miriam Makeba. In attendance were Nelson Mandela and President Mbeki of South Africa and the European Commission.
Adrian d’Souza’s debut album It’s About Time featuring Don Braden, Roseanna Vitro, Chieli Minucci, Allen Farnham and Bob Bowen was released during the winter of 2002.
Adolfo Osta was born in Pamplona (Spain) in 1966. He’s a graduate of Spanish language in the University of Barcelona (1990). At the same time, he studied Spanish guitar, Renaissance lute and sight-reading. He was also involved in different courses and seminars on traditional music and literature and carrying out frequent work on the traditional song canon.
His own repertoire includes the recovery, arrangement and adaptation of songs from various regions of Spain and France: Galicia, Provence, Castile, Andalusia, Basque Country, and Occitania; as well as Arabic, and Sephardic music.
His stage career commenced in 1990 as a soloist and member of various bands, accompanying other artists (eg: Rosa Zaragoza, Toni Xucla) or collaborating on musical theater productions with such companies such as Teatre del Repartidor.
Adnan Joubran was born 1985 in Nazareth (Palestine), to a musical family of singers, oud makers and players. He made his debut on the international stage in 2004 at the age of 18. He’s a member of Le Trio Joubran, an ensemble playing traditional Palestinian music. The trio consists of the brothers Samir, Wissam, and Adnan Joubran, originally from the city of Nazareth.