I’m not a drummer but I know good musicians and Jojo Mayer is one of the few drummers I get really excited about, still. I probably looked like a drummer-geek standing in first row and watching in awe (a facial expression shared by many surrounding me) as Jojo delivered his ultra precision handwork with the swing of a jazzdrummer and the soul of a funk drummer. After the legendary Prohibited Beatz parties at Shine (now called Canal Room) in the late nineties we all had to wait a long time before we got to experience this again, but it was worth the wait and it was an amazing gathering with new faces and all the peeps from then (down to the organizer Alex Dj Small Change who made it all happen for us again!).
The musicians where the same as well, with John Davis building the pulse with his ultra-low saw-y and sweepy gut-felt room-filling bass lines and Takuya Nakamura sprinkling the throbbing madness with embellishments and melody lines on keyboards and trumpet, accents, pads and other assorted angel dust.
The last time I went to a concert and ended up watching the drummer 90% of the duration of the show was when I saw Julio Barreto doing his cuban thing, but Jojo is probably the fastest player I can think of. His left hand does snare rolls that other drummers need two hands for and his right hand is so beyond eyesight-range that while you blink it’ll hit something several times and can create momentum with a ride pattern while doing a three tom drum fill in the space of a bar. The sheer speed and relentless energy are jaw-dropping (another popular facial expression while he played) but what is more amazing is that he can build and drive his shows home with changes in dynamics and and with what I think are some of the most creative fills I’ve seen in a while from drummers. The two snares, multiple hats, weird looking cymbals and addition of some creative delays that he triggers, all do contribute to the variety of sounds produced by his prototypes-enhanced instrument. Jojo pretty much invented live drum’n’bass and keeps reinventing and putting his spin on modern drumming while some other drummers out there are too busy improving their pocket and don’t even contemplate contributing to the evolution of the art. In the end Jojo plays two sets of live drum’n’bass/dub step/more without ever playing a solo and still manages to leave any drummer wanting to retire and any non-drummer (like me) wanting more!