“My 13 years in Japan was an amazing experience. I was honored to perform with such world-class musicians from that home base, and move about the planet freely, touring internationally to places in the Far East like Australia, Malaysia, China,Taiwan,Taipei, while continuing to tour in Europe and America.
Jazz Music, and Music itself is really celebrated in Japan – the way that culture reveres all of the arts and artists as national treasures. But there is nothing like being home and back in New York – the heartbeat of Jazz music for the world.”
To one of the worlds foremost drummers, being close to the beat is essential. Although living in Tokyo, Tommy made frequent trips to take a bite of the Apple, to collaborate with state-side professionals, and to maintained the deep connections he has there. Those connections have served him well. Within moments of landing, he has already hit with Top New York musicians, and New York Bands such as The Mingus Big Band, Dynasty and Orchestra, and has remounted Tommy Campbell’s Vocal Eyes, a concept he developed while playing with the Manhattan Transfer, and living in New York City.
Tommy concentrated on blending the straight up groove of Jazz with vocal melodies and syncopated lyrics and arrangements that pull from BeBop through Ethnic Music, and Hip-Hop, and other wide varieties of music.
“It is a sheer delight to be able to join this idea with the phenomenal talent that is rooted here in New York,” Cheshire-smiling Campbell says like a kid about to walk into M&M World on Times Square. Collaborating with folks like vocalists Miles Griffith who has sung with cats like Max Roach and Jon Hendricks, and Carolyn Leonhart who is also touring with Steely Dan, adding the textural underpinnings of keyboardist Helio Alves, guitarist, Jerome Harris or Sheryl Bailey, bassists Kenny Davis and/or Boris Kozlov, the Vocal Eyes band is pushing new boundaries in vocal/instrumental blending that satisfies the hunger of traditional jazz aficionados, while paving the way for a new, young generation of jazz heads. “My goal with this project is to reacquaint all vocalist with the reasons why they became vocalists. After all, the voice and the drum are the first instruments!”
Campbell’s dedication to growing the legacy of Jazz is not limited to the stage. He has created Stirling Studios, to produce music that can dip deep in the roots of jazz and flip the switch for the upcoming young listeners and performers, and to train carefully selected handful of young, talented protégées to learn the essence of drumming and music from this contemporary master.
“There are things you learn playing for extended periods of time with folks like Dizzy Gillespie, John McLaughlin, Sonny Rollins and Kevin Eubanks that can’t be learned in a traditional school environment. You have to have the one-on-one time with seasoned cats to get that sort of musical candy. I am blessed to have had both the foundation of Berklee, and a rich career playing with so many of the greats, playing so broad a range of music. I am committed to share, not only the technical side of drumming, but what you learn from digging deep in the pocket, playing with the masters.”
For those who have never experienced Tommy Campbell live, it is a treat not to miss! His work is mind-boggling, for those with the ear to hear for the subtlety of his work in the pocket. Although Tommy has the technique to hang with the most flashy drummers on the planet, he chooses taste over waste, using his talent to embellish and dimensionalize the music with tone and nuance, rather than overpowering it with shine.
Definitely check out Tommy’s Gig Schedule for upcoming Vocal Eyes shows, and broad range of collaborative performances with other great projects.
Hi…My name is T. Solomon
And I would like to tell You about how I met Tommy Campbell.
I had seen this Man the other day walking down the street. And the moment I had a chance to look at Him good, I had to stop Him and ask who He was. I wanted to know were He worked, or better yet…what work had He done. It was the way He was dressed. I had never seen a pair of jeans like His ever. And thats what caught My attention. As I looked to the base of His pants…. there was a small unique pocket on the inseam pants leg…(bottom left) which kept a pair of drum sticks in it. Now I’ve seen people cary drums sticks before…I think most drummers favorite pocket is there back pocket if there wearing pants that have them. But to see someone carrying drum sticks like this, and Me knowing, that to have pants like this made….means this person is very serious about His or Her craft…And to look at Tommy, He looked like a serious construction worker just getting off work…but this worker was polished clean…I’m a musician, and Im always naturally curious about other musicians when I see them or meet them. But it was the way this Master Musician carried His tools that made Me want to pick His brain. All though I am 51…i’m very Young & self taught in this music game, so I always want to learn more & more about music in any way that I can, & people like Tommy Campbell fascinate Me. So to come to this web site and find out who Sir Tommy Campbell really is lets Me know that My first thought was the correct thought. And His first impression upon Me has now become an ever lasting impression. You wear Yourself well Tommy…Who You are, is Who You are.
It has become such a “TRUE HONOR” to meet You Sir Tommy.
Blak FiYa Records™
Since the ’80s when I saw this guy on the zildjian day video when I was a kid living in wales, I realized there are drummers and then there’s Tommy Campbell. All the peace to you and your’s Tommy. From Leighton in Brisbane Australia
I’ll never forget who Tommy Campbell is because of this story. In 1985 I spent a semester at Berklee School of Music, during the first week students are evaluated for placement in classes. I was waiting in line with other drummers and this freak solo was tearing through the area, I like everyone else waiting was thinking “what the hell did I get myself into”, after about 20 minutes of pure shred, this sweaty black man comes out of one of the studios. I assumed he was a student until a week or two later when I saw his picture on the cover of Modern Drummer.
Great story I have truly learned something from
I remember Tommy played with loose ends in 85
We are from England so we had never heard of him before but since that day I always talk about the Tommy Campbell sessions, the first thing I noticed was all of the baddest drummers in Philadelphia was in our live room (studio A alpha studios south Philadelphia)they had finished setting up his drums and were waiting for him to come on through then when he turned up they acted like he was the coming of the ONE which we also noticed,
whilst warming up he was creating harmonics on ride cymbals by using the sticks to draw circles on the cymbal making actual notes ..then he played a beat to go with the notes at the same time.. this went on for a couple of seconds but it was enough for us to know he was a monster all the drummers stayed in the studio and at this point made a huge deal out of everything they saw …..then the producer said I had to go in and play bass with this cat omg …gasp! but actually his teacher skills came kicked in and he made me feel very confident so we made a great recording on a song called ‘you can’t stop the rain’, and another called ‘silent talking’ which sounds great even today
WOW! Carl, I’m just reading this now!!!!! Thank you so much for your VERY kind words. I was so honored to do that session with the great LOOSE ENDS!! And you grab that bass and sat right next to my bass drum! Bad boy!!