Jeffrey Brenner (1981) Drums
Autobiographical Sketch

Ed. Note: Jeff received the Louis Armstrong Award, in 1981, presented for outstanding achievement as a member of the New Trier High School Recording Jazz Ensemble.

My first exposure to the New Trier West Recording Jazz Ensemble, directed by Roger Mills, was through my first drum teacher Mike Friedman in 1974. I continued studying with Phil Stanger, at New Trier West, and Franks Drum Shop from 1975 through 1981.

I arrived, as a freshman, at New Trier West High School, in 1977. During my high school career, I was enrolled in the Jazz Ensemble Program, the orchestra, the wind ensemble’s and the percussion ensemble. I performed with the NTW Recording Jazz Ensemble from 1979 – 1981. In 1980 I toured Greece and Romania as a member of the Recording Jazz Ensemble, I was fortunate to appear with many NTW alumni, who returned, for the final jazz ensemble concert, before New Trier West closed, in 1981.

After graduating from New Trier West I went to Northern Illinois University and studied with Jeff Kowalski, G. Allen O’Connor, Rich Holly, Robert Chappell & James Ross. While there I met visiting artist John Bergamo and went on to study with him at CalArts, becoming a student, friend, band mate & colleague of his, until his passing in October of 2013. At CalArts I studied percussion with John, Ed Mann & Ron George and started my studies in drums from around the world. I studied and performed Ewe drumming and dance from Ghana with C.K Ganyo, Kobla Ladzekpo, Alfred Ladzekpo & Dzizogbe Lawlui, as well as leading the Student African Ensemble, teaching Ghanaian music and dance, at the Crossroads school in Santa Monica, and assisting, and subbing for, Kobla Ladzekpo at UCLA. I also studied and performed Ewe music in Chicago with Midawo Gideon Foli Alorwoyie. Other teachers at Cal Arts were Pt. Taranath Rao & Amiya Dasgupta, (North Indian Classical Music). K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat & I Nyoman Wenten (Indonesian Music) and Dr Nicholas England (Ethnomusicology), while also being a member of the critically acclaimed 20th Century Players.

I performed on stages throughout Southern California with the Zadonu Drumming Ensemble, The Repercussion Unit, Ambrosia, and The 20th Century Players (performing a number of world and west coast premiers). I worked with many contemporary composers including John Cage, Lou Harrison, Morton Feldman, Milton Babbitt, Mel Powell & John Adams, and sailed the seas as a member of the Princess Cruises show band. Playing on the Pacific Princess (the same boat used in the TV series The Love Boat). Also, while in Los Angeles I had the opportunity to work under, and be mentored by Emil Richards, Joe Porcaro & Larry Bunker.

Having moved back to Chicago I have been playing with local bands, sometimes with New Trier West alums Mark & M.J. Jiaras, Greg Marsh, Dan Lakin & Lawrence Yolles, as well as building my own Percussion/Recording studio. I have also performed with Third Coast Percussion in Grant Park, The Milwaukee Sculpture Garden & The Debartolo Center at Notre Dame. As well as performances with Adam Rudolph & Go: Organic Orchestra in Chicago. I am currently studying North Indian Tabla drumming with Jim Santi Owen, one of the top disciples of Pt Swapan Chaudhuri through the Ali Akbar Khan College Of Music.