Drummer of the Event: Jaki Liebezeit
I will begin my Artist of the Event series with a German drummer named Jaki Liebezeit. This series will feature drummers who are extrapolating true, revolutionary artistic expression on the modern drum set. Later, I will also be posting an introduction to the work of Alain Badiou, whose philosophical effort has maintained the possibility for truly new forms of art to emerge. Check www.personality-development.org for this content in the next few weeks.
I consider Jaki Liebezeit to be one of only a handful of drummers who are pioneering truly new forms of expression today. Yes, there are countless fantastic drummers, but most are re-hashing things which have already been played. This is, of course, beautiful and legitimate - please don't get me wrong, I love "musical" drumming, too. However, Liebezeit's art qualifies as a true Event - completely creative and original, re-defining the realm of what is considered possible, and revolutionizing a whole new territory of expression. The philosopher Alain Badiou has spent a lifetime detailing the process of true innovation - in art, politics, science, and love. His philosophy is one of few standing today which defends that revolutionary, miraculous changes are still possible today.
There are a handful of revolutionary drummers today - people like Thomas Lang, Marco Minnemann, and Grant Collings - are using the feet to create new vocabularies. Johnny Rabb's extrapolation of the freehand technique has also created a new territory for rhythmic expression. What makes Liebezeit so unique is that he actually chooses to eliminate the feet completely. By playing on a highly customized drum set and playing with only the hands, Liebeziet has innovated an entire style of drumming. Liebezeit's ongoing project with Burnt Friedman displays his creativity clearly.
Although once a progressive rock drummer for the jam band Can, Liebeziet's new music is incredibly clean and precise. The rhythms are driven by the ongoing repetition of hand patterns, spread (mostly) monotonously across a handful of drums. Cymbals are integrated only sparingly, and are often struck by an upstroke - this is the "cyclical" drumming Jaki has pioneered.
But, why ask me, when Liebeziet will explain himself?
Here is another great interview with Burnt Friedman and Jaki Liebezeit. Note their blatant disregard for the audience - this is often a key aspect of art which is truly new. The situation - or the current music scene - is often unprepared for the drastic break from tradition, and listeners are often critical of Real innovation. It shatters the current paradigm by exposing its limits, often making listeners uncomfortable. This is why many of the aforementioned players are discarded - even by other top musicians - as "too technical" and "not musical." People are simply - and necessarily - unprepared for such breaks from established musical tradition. Thankfully, many of us don't give a damn : )
Be sure to check out the series of albums by Burnt Friedman and Jaki Leibeziet, called "Playing Secret Rhythms."
I will leave you with one final musical presentation, a collaboration between Schiller and Jaki Liebeziet.