October 29, 2006

Zildjian Day Manila 2006: Kenny Aronoff

It was that time of the year again... Yesterday, the annual Zildjian Day Manila was held at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia. Anticipated every year by Pinoy drummers, this is one of the biggest annual drumming events in Metro Manila. JB Music, the local distributor of Zildjian cymbals, organized the event.

The event this year seems bigger, and it was appropriate to celebrate it at the biggest mall in the country. Main program/drum clinic was scheduled at 6pm, but festivities began mid-afternoon in front of the JB Music Store branch in the Mall Of Asia, which is not so far away from the Music Hall. The spacious open area in front of the store was set-up with various Gretsch and Fernando drumkits, where in local Zildjian artists had an open drum jam. Present were Zildjian endorsers Mar Dizon, Mike Alba, Vic Mercado (Bamboo), and the two newest Pinoy Zildjian artists, Dindin Moreno (Parokya Ni Edgar) and Mark Escueta (Rivermaya). Even kid prodigy Arien Pulumbarit (one of Sir Jun Regalado's best students) joined the fun!

Well, I didn't witness a lot of that because I arrived around 5pm. But I was able to pass by and hear Mike Alba and Vic Mercado trade licks. They were burning, as usual!

I went straight to the Music Hall area, where I met up with good old drummer buddies such as Bennii Obana (Barfly), Gabby Abes (Manila Philharmonic, DLSU Pops), Relly Mangubat (Stonefree) and many more! I also met a number of Pinoydrums community members. While waiting in line, I enjoyed the drum chat with my peers.

It was already past 6pm when we were sitted, and the program didn't start on time, late as usual... Until finally, cutie host Dylan (Bennii said she's a DJ for this radio station... will confirm that) began her hosting duties. I think it was at least three times she mentioned that she's not a musician. She can't relate with some of the drum talk and drumming-related stuff. How we wished that she did a little more research before doing the hosting gig. Anyway, enough talk... Start the show!

Mark Escueta's Gretsch/Zildjian kit
Mark Escueta and his band Rivermaya opened the show. They performed their hit songs Elesi, Liwanag Sa Dilim & Isang Bandila. Though they did a mighty fine job, I wish frontman Rico Blanco laid back a little and didn't grab too much of the spotlight. I mean, come on, this is a drumming event. Give the drummer some! He didn't even give credit or pay tribute to Mark. I wish Mark had a solo spot. I am aware that Mark is a technically-sound drummer and he's got some chops to show. I was just hoping for Mark to wail out and show more of his stuff. Anyway, Mark does a great job with Rivermaya, he's a great drummer, and he deserves his Zildjian endorsement. Congratulations, Mark!

After Rivermaya's set and before the main event began, everyone was treated with Mall Of Asia's fireworks display. It was timely, because it was a visual treat for this year's special guest...

Kenny Aronoff
Kenny Aronoff is this year's drum clinician. He is one of the top pop/rock session drummers in the music business. There he was, with his trademark bald head, jeans, and his sleeveless black Zildjian shirt which was kinda creepy because it was so small that it fitted like a baby-tee on him haha! I've read that he's one of the hardest-hitting drummers around, so judging from his size and physique, I knew that it will be a physically and sonically powerful performance.

And boy, he rocked really hard! He's one of the most solid and most powerful drummers that I've ever seen and heard. His cymbals were in full motion whenever he played it, and his drum sounds were thunderous, thanks to his beautiful Tama Starclassic Bubinga Omni-Tune drumkit. Kenny played along to various tracks that he recorded with artists like Alanis Morrisette, Alice Cooper, and of course, John Mellencamp (whom he played for, for many years), to name a few.

Besides his show of power and volume, I have no doubt that he's got plenty of heart and passion. And what I like the most is the fact that he plays for the music. He always thinks about four things, whenever he's working on his drumming and his drum parts for a song - time, the beat, the groove, and creative input.

Kenny's drum clinic performances were impressive, though in an educational point-of-view, I think his clinic is geared more for the beginner-to-intermediate drummer. I don't know if it's the weather or the sound system (which became faulty at certain moments) or just the overwhelmingly huge venue (which affected the acoustics), but I sensed that most of the drummers in the audience were expecting more. In fact, I noticed that some were feeling bored, and many thought that the clinic was too long (it ended past 9pm).

Kenny & me: bald power!
Maybe people were expecting something really spectacular in a drumming sense, a la Dave Weckl or Virgil Donati. But hey, that was Kenny Aronoff, and what he did is what he's known for and what he does best. By the way, I think he did a great drum solo for his finale. Now I know why he is one of the best pop/rock session drummers in the business. Way to go, Kenny!

Lighter side of the clinic... During the occasional sound system malfunctions and his short break, Kenny was giving away candy to the crowd, either throwing it or aiming it with a toy tennis racket. Bennii was so happy yesterday because he was witnessing one of his drumming heroes doing his thing. In case you were there, he's that dude doing all that shouting haha... Rock on, Bennii!! And yes, my prized Tama Starclassic Maple snare drum just got another signature. Ah, another great day of drumming...

Kenny's signature on my "Old Faithful" Starclassic.