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In early March, I was two weeks into a West Coast tour with my band Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead. For me, this was a special tour, considering I organized it myself to promote my upcoming album Legacy Holder [release date May 15, 2020]. Out of nowhere, the COVID-19 swiped through the United States, causing an abrupt end to not only my tour, but daily routines and operations.
I learned quickly how serious this matter was when gigs and tours that were planned months in advance were now being cancelled. Legacy Holder album-release shows, Auvisa Drum festival, summer European tour with Pat Metheny, fall European tour with Vision Ahead, local New York gigs, and recording sessions…. Cancelled.
Can I recover from all of this?
What do I do now?
Do what I do best—improvise and make the very best with what I have.
As I began to experience days of being quarantined, and now have the schedule of a college student on summer vacation, I knew I had to go through the process of this pandemic with the right perspective
I’m not displaced—I’m repositioned.
A lot of the times, we focus on what we’ve lost from this pandemic—not realizing that what we already have can help us get through this situation. In a time like this, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to release music. Thankfully, my second album was already scheduled to be released this spring.
Legacy Holder is eight tracks of original music, and it’s a continuation of my musical direction as a drummer and bandleader. With this album, you’ll witness Jonathan Barber the composer. Yes, there are drum solos in Legacy Holder, but more importantly, I was intentional with the mood and shape of each song. When I compose songs, I like to create a journey from the beginning to the end. This approach makes me serve the music, and be mindful of how certain musical choices effect what’s coming next, and how the next section is being introduced. I feel inspired not just by how I sound as an individual, but, collectively, how my band Vision Ahead sounds.
Now, this message isn’t making light of the struggle, grief, and anxiety that COVID-19 has caused. As we carrying on from this situation, here are four things that we can effectively use to keep our creative spirit, musically and mentally.
What are you giving your attention to? Pay attention to things that motivate, inspire, and enlighten you. Listen to a new album a day, or pick a drummer and check out the recordings that drummer has been a part of.
Taking a break is also useful. Giving your mind an opportunity to clear itself, and to focus on the positive, not the negative.
Learn Something New
Drummers—whether it’s soloing, learning rudiments, working on different grooves, or incorporating other instruments to our normal setup, we have the time to research and get better at what we want to learn. Spend time on what you don’t know, but do want to learn. Think about the music, as well—don’t focus on just the drums.
Make Good Decisions
This is where our improvisation skills won’t just be used for the bandstand. Again, you have to be real with yourself, and figure out what are the best decisions to maintain your craft and your musical foundation. Location, access to your instrument, technology tools, being accessible (virtually), creating content/product, and a providing a service are key things you have to consider on how this best applies to you.
Since enduring this pandemic, I’ve spent time in my hometown of Windsor, Connecticut regrouping and a creating strategy for moving forward. Thus far, I’ve been giving lessons and master classes to drummers all over the world—thanks to Zoom and Skype. As some may know, this year I joined the legendary Ludwig Drums. Recently, I received a beautiful vintage-bronze mist Classic Maple kit—which sounded amazing right out the box. I’ve taken this time to dive back in with Sunhouse Percussion, which have opened my interests about creating various solo presentations.
Be thankful for what you have. Embrace it, and don’t stop creating!
Although obstacles may change, the vision remains the same. Music will never die, and we all get to participate in the continuum of music and it’s relation to the world.
Now Drum to THAT!
(Found on ON THE BEAT / MODERN DRUMMER)
Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead
(Vision Ahead Music)
By Bill Milkowski | Published August 2020
Jonathan Barber’s star has been on the rise since his auspicious 2018 debut, Vision Ahead, and a 2019 tour in Pat Metheny’s trio. The Hartford native’s sophomore release, Legacy Holder, more than fulfills his promise, showcasing powerfully slick drumming within the context of adventurous writing that bears the unmistakable influence of Atlantis-era Wayne Shorter.
The reflective title track highlights some fluid improvising by guitarist Andrew Renfroe and builds toward exhilarating heights through old-school trading of eights between pianist Taber Gable and pungent-toned altoist Godwin Louis. The runaway uptempo swinger “Major” is charged by Barber’s forward momentum on the kit in tandem with Matt Dwonszyk’s insistent walking bass lines. “Son Of Hartford” opens with Barber slamming against some angular arpeggiated unisons from Renfroe and Louis, recalling classic Mahavishnu Orchestra. If Barber is indeed a legacy holder, he’s continuing in a lineage of adventurous drummer-composers spanning Tony Williams and Terri Lyne Carrington. There’s an abundance of heightened energy and new ideas here, executed with pristine precision by the bandleader and his future-facing ensemble.
Jonathan Barber & ✔️ision 🅰️head 20/20 Vision U.S. Tour
2/24 – New York, NY Smalls Jazz Club
2/29 – Portland, OR PDX Jazz Festival
3/4- Seattle, WA The Royal Room
3/6- Spokane, WA Imagine Jazz
3/11- Los Angles, CA Sam First Bar
3/12- Los Angles, CA Sam First Bar
3/13- Greeley, CO University of Northern Colorado
3/14- Greeley, CO Tower 56 Distilling
3/15- Kansas City, MO Record Bar
3/19- Cleveland, OH Bop Stop
3/20- Akron, OH Blu Jazz
3/21- Nashville, TN Rudy’s Jazz Room
This tour is made possible with the support of Jazz Road, a national initiative of South Arts, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundationwith additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation #jazzroad South Arts.
Get your tickets!
•Jonathan Barber 🥁Taber Gable 🎹Andrew Renfroe 🎸Matt Dwonszyk🎻
Sponsored by Istanbul Agop
CHINA 🇨🇳 •
Drum Clinic Tour 2019 @istanbulagop •
Looking forward sharing the Vision in with these cities.
12/12 Yunnan, Kumming | Joe Zhou Yi Shun
12/13 Henan, Loyung | Miguel Music
12/14 Anhui, Hefei | Walkbeats Percission
12/15 Jiangsu, Nanjing | Chun Xin Percussion
12/16 Beijing | Huayi Musical •
Pat Metheny- Guitar, Jonathan Barber- Drums, Darek Olesziewicz- Bass
Latin America Drum Clinic Tour!
August 29th – September 16th I’ll be performing in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina.
Hosted by Istanbul Agop Cymbals
I’ll post the exact dates and locations of the clinics very soon. .
Also I’ll be available for private one on one lessons so DM me if you’re interested.
March 1 – Tblisi, Georgia
March 2 – Tblisi, Georgia
March 7 – Bielsko, Poland
March 10 – Katawice, Poland
Pat Metheny – Guitar
Jonathan Barber – Drums
Darek Oleszkiewics -Bass
Introducing the new innovation from Evans: SoundOff™ Mesh Drumheads.
With new Evans SoundOff™ mesh drumheads you can keep up your chops without keeping up the neighbors, or access a whole world of sonic possibilities when you use them with Sensory Percussion.