Catasauqua Press

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tommy Igoe, above, and his Birdland Big Band, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30, main stage, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tommy Igoe, above, and his Birdland Big Band, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30, main stage, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown

No lullaby of Birdland

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by JERRY DUCKETT Special to The Press in Focus

Drummer Tommy Igoe brings new take on big band to Miller Symphony Hall

Grab your favorite partner, put on your dancing shoes and swing the night away, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30, main stage, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown.

It's a date you won't want to miss when Tommy Igoe, one of the world's most prolific and prominent drummers, performs in concert with his Birdland Big Band.

The Birdland Big Band is made up of 15 of New York City's finest studio musicians, who constantly travel and play with the world's most prestigious music groups when not in the studio.

"This ain't your daddy's big band, but a new take on a cherished American art form," Igoe says during a phone interview. "We are very honored to be playing around the country for what we hope is brand new audiences who have not heard this kind of music before."

Igoe's debut album, "The Birdland Big Band: Eleven," released last fall on Deep Rhythm Music, is up for four Grammy Awards: Best Large Ensemble; Best Arrangements, "Armando's Rhumba" and "Got A Match"; and Best Engineering: Phil Magnotti.

The Birdland Big Band arrives in Allentown during a 22-date tour that began Jan. 25 and includes concerts in Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, goes on to North and South Carolina and Florda, and concludes Feb. 25 in Pennsylvania.

"The band has been touring around the country to sold-out houses and people have been very receptive to what we are calling a new take on a 'Grand American Tradition.'

Igoe started the band six years ago, and maintained a Friday residency at the iconic Birdland Jazz Club, playing to sold-out crowds.

"The opportunity arose when Birdland needed a new band in a time slot that had been habitually sleepy. So, they gave me a shot to start something brand-new in that time slot. We turned it into the most popular weekly jazz event in New York."

He now lives in San Francisco where his new band, The Tommy Igoe Big Band, has a weekly residency at the Rrazz Room.

Not only is Igoe a world-class drummer but is also a highly-regarded clinician who not only travels the country teaching master classes, but has written and released some of the world's best-selling drum books and DVDs, including "Getting Started on Drums" and "Great Hands for a Lifetime" DVDs, and "Groove Essentials" 1.0 and 2.0 books and DVDs. He also has his own custom-designed drum sticks, "Vic Firth Tommy Igoe Signature Series Sticks."

His band can be seen on the "Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band Live from New York" DVD, a two-hour concert of 14 compositions filmed live at Birdland during the 2008 JVC jazz festival.

In 1997, Igoe created the drum set book for "The Lion King" Broadway musical, for which he has served as principal drummer and associate conductor.

Igoe was two, just about out of diapers, when his father, Sonny, created a scaled-down drum set, so his son could reach the pedals.

"I insisted on playing my dad's big set," says Igoe. "My dad spent all this money trying to build this small set and I just would not have it. I just kept crawling back to his drums. In those days, you couldn't just walk into any music store and buy a miniature drum set."

Igoe's exposure to the music and drumming of marching bands in the parades his parents took him to see played a huge role in his love for drumming, and for the art of rudimental drumming. Igoe was taught by is father, and two great and influential teachers: Darryl Bott, a high school band director from New Jersey, and Dennis DeLucia, a legendary drum corps leader.

Igoe also studied classical and jazz piano. "I was always fascinated by other instruments," says Igoe. "My father also knew that being a piano player would make me a better drummer, and a stronger musician overall than if I only played the drums. I still study the piano and have always been very curious about it."

At 18, in 1983, Igoe found himself touring the world with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In 1986, his career really took off when he became an active member of the New York studio scene.

Igoe always made good money doing studio work, but soon joined Blood, Sweat and Tears, then went on to tour with Art Garfunkel, New York Voices, Dave Grusin and Stanley Jordan.

"Now I only lead my own bands. I don't play as a sideman any longer," says Igoe. "I want to be in control and call the shots."w