Born: November 13, 1973 Primary Instrument: Drums
As a drummer, Ari Hoenig's success has been unprecedented. Few have risen so quickly and deservedly into the upper ranks of the jazz. But it wasn't always clear that drumming would be his calling. Growing up in Philadelphia PA, his parents influence led him through a variety of alternative musical experiences. Both are active in music education. His father is a conductor and classical singer, his mother a violinist and pianist. Accordingly, at 6 years old, Ari began by studying the violin and piano.
So why did Ari switch to playing the drums at age 12? Well, Ari says, It was the only instrument my parents didn't know how to play. You might even call it adolescent rebellion Still, Ari feels his early foundation in classical music has been helpful in shaping his current musical concept. By age 14, Ari was honing his skills with other young jazz musicians at Philly clubs such as Ortliebs Jazz Haus. His enthusiasm was ill rewarded however at age 16 when he was sued by his neighbors for playing too loudly.
Ari attended the prestigious University of North Texas for 3 years, where he studied with Ed Soph while playing with the One O'clock jazz band. In 1995, wanting to be closer to New York City, Ari transferred to William Patterson College in northern New Jersey. There he found himself playing for legendary Philadelphia organist Shirley Scott, and working regularly in New York.
For the past 6 years, Ari has been a member of the Jean-Michel Pilc trio and the Kenny Werner trio. He has shared the bandstand with the likes of Joe Lovano, Gerry Mulligan, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Wynton Marsalis. Today, Ari can be found playing in the bands of any number of musicians, including Pat Martino, Joshua Redman, Wayne Krantz, Richard Bona, Chris Potter, The Jazz Mandolin Project and Mike Stern.
Ari has been featured in interviews and articles for Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Bateria, Citizen Jazz, Philadelpia City Paper, All About Jazz, Philadelphia Weekly, Rim Shot, Drummer, Jazziz, Relix and Downbeat, which included Ari in its article 13 Drummers for the Future. He has toured the world extensively, and has performed on numerous television and radio broadcasts.
Ari Hoenig is not the typical sideman. He is also a composer, arranger, and pianist/keyboardist. His compositions and arrangements grace the repertoires and recordings of Werner, Pilc, The Jazz Mandolin Project, the R&B Band Good Results and Julien Lourau's group, as well as Ari's own quartet. This year, in affiliation with the National Endowment for the Arts, Ari was awarded a Meet the Composer grant to perform his compositions with his own group.
Ari formed his group at the end of 2002. Though the Ari Hoenig Quartet carries his name, this group is anything but a one-man show. There are no sidemen in this band, Ari says. Everyone is a leader. I like to hire leaders for the personality and strength they bring to the music. The band features Jacques Schwarz-Bart, on Tenor Sax, Jean Michel Pilc on Piano and Matt Penman on Bass. All three are brilliant musicians, long-term friends and musical partners.
The quartet has a weekly Monday night gig at Fat Cat, where they were recently filmed by Arte (French) television for the Documentary Jazz in New York and for a concert to be aired separately from the documentary. They also appeared on the show After Hours on MSNBC. With international tours taking them to France, Spain, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington DC, Ari and his band draw strong audiences and critical acclaim wherever they play.
Since 1996, Ari has appeared on nearly sixty recordings as a sideman and three as a leader. 2004 marks the release of his first quartet record The Painter on the Smalls record Label. Since its release, The Painter has gotten rave reviews in a number of publications including a listing as one of the top 5 records of 2004 by Fanfare magazine. Both of Ari's solo drum CD's,Time Travels(2000), and The Life Of A Day (2002), document his explorative nature; they represent an ambitious tribute to the melodic possibilities of the drum set.
Ari feels fortunate to have had the attention and guidance of his mentors and teachers, especially Ed Soph, Ralph Peterson, Carl Mottola, Rob Zollman and John Riley. Hoping to pass on some of what he has recieved, Ari teaches at the New School for Social Research and Manhattan School of Music, both in New York. He gives clinics and lectures at music schools and universities worldwide and writes a regular educational column for Modern Drummer magazine. In collaboration with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, Ari is currently finishing a book about metric modulations (Mel Bay Publishing.) He and Johannes often give workshops together on the subject.
My favorite part of being a musician, Ari says, is the process of developing a dialogue between players within a band. Looking towards the future, he hopes to carry on that process, and to continue growing both as a musician and a band leader. Of course, there is no growth without change. There will be some surprises around the corner, he says.