Jojo Mayer has performed and / or recorded with a great variety of artists covering a wide range of musical styles such as The Screaming Headless Torsos, Meshell n'dege Occello, Vernon Reid's science project, DJ Spooky, the Vienna Art Orchestra, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Harry Pepl, Gerald Veasley, Lunar Crush, John Zorn, Chico Freeman, George Adams John Medeski, Hiram Bullock, Leni Stern, Depart, Wolfgang Puschnigg, Friedrich Gulda, Harry Sokal, Steve Coleman's 5 Elements, Passport, Wah Wah Watson, and many more.
More recently, Jojo has been venturing into New York's Techno / Multimedia / Avantgarde / club scene by promoting his own weekly party event called PROHIBITED BEATZ. This new platform for live "Drum n" Bass", "Nu-Skool Breaks", "Speed Garage" and the latest stylistical hybrids and mutations in DJ culture, has also provided the back drop for his first solo project called NERVE. Described as an "endeavor in reverse engineering the textures and rhythms of the current stream of computer generated music into a live performed, improvisational format", NERVE and PROHIBITED BEATZ have created a reputation in the New York scene that already goes way beyond "a serious buzz".
Mayer confides that he's weary of using the term "jazz" these days. "I don't want to discredit some honestly good music out there, but I'm highly suspicious of anything that still chooses to carry the label 'jazz' today," he says. "Jazz is classical music now. … It's become an art form. And when something becomes an art form, its cultural relevance becomes expired. The discipline and theater of it become more important than any cultural meaning it actually might have, or had."
In this light, Mayer's Nerve is definitely an experiment, co-produced with a fellow Swiss musician as a sound engineer. But Roli Mosimann does more than typical engineers, as he closely interacts with the band, using the mixing board like an instrument. The musicians provide the initial input, and Mosimann takes care of the output, adding delay or feeding back the sound in an altered way. The process goes on as an interaction or real-time audio deconstruction.
"I've known Mosimann since I was just a kid," says Mayer. "We lost track for almost 20 years when he left Switzerland in the late '70s, then we ran into each other again after I moved to New York." Mosimann is also a drummer, and an original member of the No Wave group Swans. He has produced groups like That Petrol Emotion, New Order and The Young Gods, as well as electro-industrial legends Skinny Puppy and noise-rocker Marilyn Manson.
Other members of Nerve include Tacuya Nakamura (from Japan) on synthesizer, sampler and trumpets, and John Davis on bass and low frequency manipulation. This collective is a spin-off of Mayer's infamous performance/party events in New York City, called Prohibited Beatz, which actively involve the audience, venue, musicians, DJs, visuals - all organized by Mayer.
"It's a party," he says. But Nerve on tour can become a party, too. "It happened before that in the course of a Nerve gig, people took initiative and rearranged some jazz club into a steaming hell-hole," Mayer recalls. "In Poland once, a promoter made the mistake of putting up bistro tables for a seated audience. About 50 kids who wanted to dance created a contemporary sculpture out of them in about 90 seconds."
Given that, it's better to leave your expectations at home. "The less people expect to come to a jazz concert, the more likely they might experience a Prohibited Beatz moment," Mayer says. "It's up to them. We will be there.
"As for myself, I'm trying to stay alert and pay attention to subcultural and anti-cyclic occurrences. As Frank Zappa said, 'By the time you can buy T-shirts about something, it probably has lost its relevance.' My hope is to bring something to people that they can experience and be a part of before it gets printed on T-shirts."
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Drum Dungeon Bio - JO JO MAYER
Serge "Jojo" Mayer (born 18 January 1963) is a highly acclaimed Swiss drummer born in Zurich and currently residing in New York City.
Son of a touring musician, Mayer began his career as a drummer at an early age, receiving his first drum set at the age of two. Having taught himself throughout his childhood, Mayer broke out into the professional music scene at the age of 18, joining the Monty Alexander group. Touring with the group would launch him into the major jazz music scene, playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux, Nice, and Athens etc, and leading to his gigs with jazz-greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone.
Eventually, after playing with a great variety of artists, Mayer would move away from jazz and into Drum 'n' Bass electronica.
Jojo Mayer is known for bringing together jazz, drum and bass, jungle, and other influences. He is also famous for his ability to play the rhythms of programmed jungle drum 'n' bass music on acoustic drums, terming this technique "reverse engineering", a phrase borrowed from computing.
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He executes this approach using various methods such as the Heel-toe bass drum technique, the Moeller stroke, and the "pull-out" or "push-pull" accent which takes the beat on the rebound.
Using this technique he can play beats at astonishing speeds. A few of his main influences are Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette and Buddy Rich.
He plays with the guitarist David Fiuczynski in the avant-garde pop rock band Screaming Headless Torsos and in the fusion jazz band Intergalactic Maiden Ballet.
He is the founder of the Prohibited Beatz clique in the NYC underground live music scene.
Jo Jo's Prohibitive Beatz - discussing the direction he his heading in as an innovator in drums and percussion with his band NERVE..
The man can play like a sampler...
Jojo Mayer Drum Solo at MusikMesse 2010
Jojo Mayer's Nerve on A38 Ship
Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer
Without a doubt one of the most expansive and comprehensive drumming DVD’s on hand technique ever produced, Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer is recommended for drummers of every age, style and skill level. This double-DVD, 3-hour set is available from the Limited division of Hudson Music and covers a wide range of information on drumming technique, from the most fundamental to the most advanced concepts. Yet, Secret Weapons is more than just the ultimate instructional method and reference guide, it also showcases the inspiring artistry, musical philosophy and ground breaking technical abilities of one of today’s most progressive performers, innovators and educators.
Filmed in crystal clear digital video and audio and shot at a variety of locations in and around the Manhattan area, Secret Weapons explains closely guarded and never before published secrets of the great drumming masters as well as Jojo’s very own approaches to drumming with special features like animated graphics, practice exercises and troubleshooting tips that will allow all drummers to unlock the inner workings and mysteries of even the most challenging hand movements and guide them through easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to understand and master them.
Among Jojo’s flawless demonstrations and in-depth explanations, Secret Weapons’ various chapters feature topics such as:
• A basic approach to technique and the physics of drumming.
• Analysis of hand positions, matched and traditional grips, rebound and the fulcrum and the Gladstone, Moeller and finger techniques.
• Highly-evolved, hybrid techniques such as the push-pull, drop-bounce, reverse stroke and one-handed roll.
• Exercises to build Speed, Accuracy, Endurance, Power and Dexterity
• Concepts to troubleshoot and overcome drumming technical barriers.
• Warm-Up and Practice tips.