Brian Melvin

Brian Melvin is an internationally known drummer/percussionist/educator. He has played and recorded with many of the worlds leading musicians. Not limited by styles, he’s worked with the late Joe Henderson, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Bobo Stenson, Toots Thielemans, Richard Bona, Bob Weir (“The Grateful Dead”), Greg Allman (“The Allman Brothers Band”) and many more. One of his main associations has been with the Hall of Fame bassist Jaco Pastorius. They were good friends and made five historic recordings together. One of their most famous was “Standards Zone” (Global Pacific Records,) which was the no. 1 jazz album for 15 weeks. Currently Beatlejazz has been in the top ten on their first three releases as well. Having lived in New York and Europe, he is no stranger to the international jazz scene. Brian lived and played in New York a few different times, starting in 1987. At that period he was the house drummer at the Blue Note jazz club after hours sessions, along with playing in the Mike Stern trio for two years at the famous 55 bar.It was also during this period where Brian and Dave Kikoski started their long musical and personal friendship,which continues currently in Beatlejazz.In 1998-99 he shared living quarters with Al Foster and played all over New York, and the east coast. Recently Brian has been involved in many great projects, including Beatlejazz, Fog, Geografix, and many European projects as well. Also a resident of Tallinn, Estonia, Brian has been teaching workshops and masterclasses all over Europe as well as playing in numerous musical settings. He is very active in world music and has been playing tablas and various hand drums along with electric percussion. It was back in 1964 when Brian first got the bug for drumming. He and his brother watched the Ed Sullivan show where “The Beatles” appeared for the first time. He could not believe how much fun Ringo was having swinging the group. That Christmas he received a little snare drum with a cymbal attached to it. As his interest grew, his family was very supportive along the way , which finally led to a full set of drums.
At that same point in history, Haight Street was groovin’ hard in San Francisco and Brian was infatuated with the sound, especially “The Grateful Dead”. There was something in the air, when they played, that was much different from the other groups, and it was “The Dead” that opened many new doors in the worlds of improvisation. Both drummers of “The Dead” were big influence on Brian.One of his early and most profound influences was the time spent with Jerry Granelli. Jerry was just so different and brought the mystical into the drum. San Francisco was blessed with so many eclectic minds. You had drummers like Jerry, George Marsh, and the late Scott Morris, who also was a very creative and kind in his teachings. Then the likes of Eddie Marshall, and Eddie Moore, Richie Goldberg, and Vince Lateano who were and are just fantastic drummers. It was at the legendary jazz club “The Keystone Korner” where Brian met all the masters. He virtually lived there and became close friends with Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach,and Rashied Ali. Brian and Rashid actually played double drums together with Jaco and Jorma Kaukonen in a short lived group in New York in the mid 80’s. So many others were taken in along the way. He learned brush ideas from Richie Goldberg and Billy Higgens. Also at seven, Brian met Buddy Rich at the classic club “Bimbo’s 365”. That experience totally blew his mind. Buddy was great with children and gave Brian a pair of sticks, his album “Big Swing Face”, a picture and a friendship up until Buddy’s departure. World drumming has also been big interest of Brian. Master tabla players Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain were his teachers, and remain the most highly regarded masters Brian knows and studies. They turn drums into gold, and watching them together was an experience beyond words.It is a constant inpiration that he will always treasure.Also African Drumming has always captured his imagination, and great friend and drummer Kwaku Daddy shared some of his insights of the African drumming and folklore.
San Francisco has been fortunate to have so much culture and drumming at it’s call, and the Cuban master Armando Peraza is at the top of the class. Armando and Brian have shared some beautiful sessions together. When you listen to Mitch Mitchell from Hendrix’ group, some John Bonham, Ringo, Charlie Watts, hang out with “The Greatful Dead,” then throw in all the jazz greats, and world drummers, practice Tai Chi for years, and keep on drumming and drumming and drumming you get Brian Melvin and the Tao of Drumming.