The drum set is a MUSICAL instrument: a unique and purposeful
assemblage of different percussion instruments, played as one single
instrument by using both hands and both feet. Drummers need to
recognize–discover and develop–the power their instrument holds in
affecting a group’s overall sound, in general and from moment-to-moment:
how, when, and WHAT parts of the set is played. This great responsibility is,
of course, in addition to the traditional role of the drums as the “heartbeat”
of the ensemble–time keeper, groove-setter, and band’s rhythmic center.
Making music of any kind is a form of self-expression. Jazz and creative
improvisers, especially, are continually trying get closer to the voice inside–
to develop their own “sound.” How to achieve this is what we call technique.
The nuts and bolts:
–Listening: developing one’s ear for rhythm, melody, form, orchestration,
–Rudiments: the ABC’s of drumming patterns; and how they can be applied
to the drum set.
–Four-limb independence: the hallmark of the drum set player.
–Orchestration: the how, when, and what parts of the drum set are played.
–Odd time signatures: what used to be considered “odd” is now commonplace in
jazz due to the influence of the great variety of “world music” and modern
–Polyrhythm and polymeter
Over the last twenty-five years, drummer Michael Sarin has been at the center of New York City’s genre-bending jazz and improvisation community. His versatility and musical wit helped forge long associations with forward-looking artists Thomas Chapin, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford, Ben Allison, and David Krakauer.
Born in 1965, Michael was raised on Bainbridge Island, WA—a ferryboat ride from Seattle. His interest in music and the drums came early, nourished by both the record collections of his parents
and older sister, and by the AM radio he received at age seven. His formal music education began during high school with drummer Dave Coleman, Sr. He went on to study drums and percussion with Tom Collier at the University of Washington, and later with master drummer, Jerry Granelli.
Since moving to New York in 1989, Michael’s unique style and approach to the drum set has been highly sought after by NYC and European musicians looking to expand the definitions of jazz and
improvised music. He has contributed to recordings by the aforementioned artists as well as those of Frank Carlberg, Anthony Coleman, Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Helias,
Denman Maroney, Simon Nabatov, Mario Pavone, and Ned Rothenberg–recordings found on numerous music critics’ Top Ten CD year-end lists.
Michael performs all over the world–in major and minor festivals; concert halls famous and
infamous, big and small. He has appeared as a soloist with the WDR Rundfunk Orchestra
(Cologne, Germany); Jazz Sinfonica Orchestra (Sao Paulo, Brazil); Metropolis Ensemble
(NYC); and Chamber Music Northwest (Portland, Oregon). He can be heard on recent
recordings of Frank Carlberg, Mark Dresser, Joe Fiedler, Erik Friedlander, David Krakauer,
and Leslie Pintchik.
As an educator, Michael has been on the faculty of the Maine Jazz Camp since 1999. He has
taught drum set master classes at universities in the United States, and co-led jazz
ensemble master classes in the U.S., Brazil, Namibia, India, and Europe. He is currently on
staff of the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy, and continues to teach privately.