Friday, February 17, 2012
Marvin Bugalu Smith
My good friend Chad Anderson first introduced me to drummer Marvin "Bugalu" Smith via his fine web forum cymbalholic.com a few years ago. Marvin posts video recordings of his weekly jam sessions and the occasional lesson dealing with his conceptual approach to Jazz drumming on youtube.com quite frequently. I really dig his eccentric personality and he plays some really deep, over-the-top things on the drums.
Here's Marvin's bio (from his website):
"Drummer Marvin 'BU-GA-LU' Smith is a veteran in the world of music. His exciting playing has been heard on stages around the world for more than forty years. Growing up in a musical family outside of New York City in nearby Englewood, NJ, Marvin began his studies of music at an early age. By the time he was eight years old, Marvin was already working with his older brother, Buster Smith, a prominent drummer who performed, most notably, with Jazz pioneer, Eric Dolphy. When Marvin was sixteen, he worked for the Town Sound Recording Company. During his time there, he recorded with such stars of the music world as James Brown, Lola Falana, and Sam and Dave among others. In 1969, Marvin joined singer Rocky Roberts' band and moved to Italy. During the nearly 25 years Marvin spent playing in Europe with Roberts, he also performed with many of the top names in Jazz. Stints with Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Mal Waldron, and Charles Mingus followed. It was also at this time that Marvin first met and played with Archie Shepp and Sun Ra. Both men would prove to be influential in Marvin's career. Archie Shepp asked Marvin to join his band in 1982. For five years Marvin toured all over the world and recorded with the legendary reedman. While with Shepp, Marvin further evolved what he calls "The Timing Of The Drum", a philosophy based upon the idea that rhythm in music follows the Universal Rhythms of Life. One night in 1987, Marvin happened to be at a club across the street from Sweet Basil in New York City. He saw that Sun Ra was performing there all week and decided to stop in and say hi to his old friend. Upon entering the club, Sun Ra band member John Gilmore greeted Marvin and asked him to sit in with the band
for a set. After the set, Sun Ra immediately offered Marvin the gig starting the next day. From 1987-1992 Marvin toured and recorded with Sun Ra. In 1992, Marvin released Be Impartial to Yourself, recorded live at “Visiones” in New York City with Cecil McBee and Kirk Lightsey. This recording showcases the power and creative energy Marvin brings to every group he plays with. Currently, Marvin continues to stay busy as a leader, sideman and instructor in New York."
Here is a great interview with Marvin that Chad recently passed on to me:
As I mentioned, Bugalu regularly posts footage of his weekly sessions and in the following three clips you can really get a sense of the intensity and depth that this man plays with:
This one, in particular, is a free-wheeling version of "Giant Steps":
I saved the best one, I think, for last. Here is some late-night, home basement footage of Marvin playing GREAT and talking through a few of his concepts: