Fusion master masters jazz fusion

Photo taken in North Hollywood  on  07/29/15. Photo taken in North Hollywood on 07/29/15.

Virgil Donati Band comes to Oddbody’s

By Christian Roerig

Photo: The Virgil Donati Band will perform at Oddbody’s on Sept. 11

Virgil Donati is no stranger to playing drums. In fact, he*s considered one of the best (not strangest). The Australian-born native is known for a highly technical style of drumming, but that*s not where his band drops off. The four-piece combines elements of prog, jazz, fusion and rock to blend skill and flair. In addition to his solo career, Donati is the drummer for the band Planet X, which he started with former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian, and jazz legend Allan Holdsworth. Considered jazz fusion at its core (think Miles Davis* Bitches Brew), the Virgil Donati Band will come to Oddbody*s to give people a taste of the must-be-seen-to-be-believed drumming.

How is the current tour going? How long are you out for?

Virgil Donati: The tour begins in New York next week, and I*ll be out more or less until Nov. 1. Apart from the U.S/Canada tour, I*ll be going to Brazil, Russia and ending in Italy.

Who all will be in the VDB this go, and what do they do?

VD: Anthony Crawford on bass, André Nieri on guitar and Isamu McGregor on Keyboards and vocals. I’m astounded by the exceptional level of skill displayed by so many of the younger players out there now. I’m always on the lookout for new talent, and I take pride in featuring some of them on this tour.

How much different would the Virgil Donati Band be from, say, Planet X?

VD: Planet X was a progressive rock band, whereas my band has elements of progressive and also a more open and improvisatory fusion element.

Are you out and currently supporting a recent release?

VD: I*m touring in support of In This Life, trying to take it to more corners of the earth.

What would one expect from the show? Will it be looser and jammier or does it stick to the recorded material?

VD: There*s a big spontaneous element to our show. However, the form of the songs are close to the record with some alterations here and there. We also include some re-arranged Planet X tunes and a special Allan Holdsworth segment.

Do you consider yourself a virtuoso?

VD: Most things that define us are conceptual. Considering the passion, time and effort put into refining my skills over a lifetime, and my mastery of rhythm, one could conceptualize me as a virtuoso. While I remain aware of my own weaknesses, I don*t subscribe to such descriptions.

Was it intimidating to play with fusion luminaries such as Allan Holdsworth?

VD: Not at all—and particularly not in Allan*s case. He is the best leader one could hope for. If he feels comfortable to have you in his band, he places all faith in you to play and interpret the music as you hear it. This is what makes it such a great gig. Everyone brings their unique talents and interpretation to the table, without any impertinence from the leader.

What would be some of your picks for the some of the best jazz fusion albums for the uninitiated?

VD: Anything by Allan Holdsworth, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report’ I*d say that*s a good start.

Do you consider yourself a metal musician at all?

VD: These days, metal is as broad a term as jazz is’ I*m not a black metal or speed metal drummer. Period. I can*t say I think of myself as a metal musician. I*d say more as a studio musician who is adaptable.

What are you currently listening to?

VD: This year, I*ve had zero time to listen, which is sad, but all for good reason. I*m currently writing for three big projects, and it*s all-consuming. One of these includes my new solo record, which is in its last phases of production. It*s been a minimum of 14-hour days all year, so, therefore, no recreational music.

What are some of your major drum inspirations?

VD: I love all the new guys at the forefront of drumming. I feel more optimistic now about the future of drumming than I would have 10 years ago. That*s because the younger players from all over the world are taking the baton and running hard. A short incomplete list would include Chris Coleman, Kiko Freitas, Gergo Borlai.

What can we expect on the horizon for Virgil Donati?

VD: My new solo record, titled The Dawn Of Time, may turn some heads. It*s an orchestral record featuring some of the most amazing musicians from the L.A. symphonic scene. It*s a side to me many may not expect. I hope to release it before the end of the year.

Virgil Donati Band will perform Friday, Sept. 11 at Oddbodys Music Room, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. in Dayton. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 day of show for patrons 18 and over. For more information please visit virgildonati.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Christian Roerig at ChristianRoerig@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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