Primary Instrument: Vibraphone
While I'm a percussionist these days, I originally studied classical piano. I put in a good 11 years, all the way through through high school. I also sung for many years in the world-famous Phoenix Boys Choir. At age 13, I started playing drums and percussion and about nine years later, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Studies from Northern Arizona University (thanks Steve). In 1999, I moved to Boston and have been freelancing as a drummer/percussionist ever since.
Musicians these days often wonder what my main thing is. I believe that my strongest characteristic as a musician lies in my diversity; I study and perform a variety of musical styles (orchestral, jazz, mexican folk, exotica, brazilian, middle-eastern, flamenco) on an equally-wide range of instruments. Over the last few years here in Boston, I have probably performed the most as a vibraphonist and hand percussionist with various world/jazz/cross-over bands. However, whether I am in a tuxedo at Carnegie Hall, on stage with disco/dance diva Donna Summer, in Mexico City at the Festival de Mexico with the Orchestrotica, or at a local club with my Mexican son band La Tuza, being versatile is still in my blood.
As of 1999 and prior to moving to Boston, I was probably best known for orchestral playing and big-band drumming. I had performed extensively in several groups including the Arizona Opera Ring Cycle Orchestra, the Flagstaff Festival of the Arts Orchestra, and the Flagstaff Symphony (as principal percussionist for several years). On vibraphone, I performed as a soloist on two concerto concerts with the Sun City Symphony of the West Valley and the Northern Arizona University Orchestra. So, when I moved to Boston, I played similar gigs eventually spanning 15 regional orchestras. But, being new to town, I also reached out to bands to explore the vibraphone and drumset more…
After two years with the band Pulse on vibraphone, I joined the award-winning band WAITIKI in 2003 and focused heavily on vibraphone (exotica/jazz/latin/chamber) and big-band music (via the Orchestrotica side-project, which I reformed into my own group, Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica). Partially as a result of the exotic repertoire in WAITIKI, I started focusing more on hand percussion which led to performances with Leah Callahan (cabaret/pop artist), Shaun Wortis (NOLA/Rock/RNB), Juanito Pascual and Steven Spungin (flamenco guitarists), Orchestra of This (progressive jazz/world), Black Sea Salsa, and a variety of singer-songwriter/acoustic groups looking for an alternative to drumset. My percussion setup (sometimes called an organic drumset) varied, but as of today it often includes cajon (I play this a lot), pandeiro, doumbek, ocean-drum/tar/bodhran (lap style frame drumming), riq (middle-eastern tambourine), and whatever cool metallophones I can find. While I still play occasional drumset, and orchestral gigs, I tend to perform most as a multi/hand-percussionist and vibraphonist with my exotica/world music quartet Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica. I also compose for this group and for special events, we swell to a 23-pc big band which performs my transcriptions of the space-age pop music of Esquivel (we're the only band on the planet to do this music). The first of two CDs in the Orchestrotica's Exotica for Modern Living series will be released in November 2010.
View my complete resume or studio recordings for more info if you aren't bored yet!
Today, I hope my overall phrasing, groove, and musicality are what most complement the groups I play with regularly. So, that's what I keep working on, regardless of the instrument. And, that includes practicing the marching machine.