Jazz Drummer Keeps Time With A Busy Schedule
By THERESA WINSLOW
The Capital of Annapolis
DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. (AP) — Steve Fidyk keeps the beat with a schedule that’d make most people beat.
“I come from a family of really hard workers. I didn’t know any different.”
The Davdsonville drummer is a member of the Army band, teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia, leads the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra’s 17-piece jazz ensemble, consults for Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington program, writes a column for Modern Drummer magazine, and directs the jazz program at South River High School.
He also has a jazz band that bears his name, and it’ll be flexing its musical chops while recording live this week at 49 West. Steve Fidyk’s Parlour Project will then travel to New York to record in the studio. The hope is get enough material for two CDs.
“They’re very, very good,” said Brian Cahalan, owner of 49 West. “It’s modern jazz, but they can do pretty hard bop.”
The Parlour Project got its name because members of the group first gathered in Fidyk’s living room nine months ago.
The musicians are all friends, either from military bands or Temple.
“It’s pretty chill,” said bassist Regan Brough. “There’s no up-tightness at all. We enjoy playing together and we’re there to make great music.”
The group performs mainly as a quartet, but will have five pieces for the upcoming Annapolis shows — drums, guitar, bass, saxophone and trumpet. The band cut its teeth at 49 West, where it’s had a standing monthly gig at 49 West since October.
Terell Stafford, who directs the jazz program at Temple and plays trumpet, said the use of a guitar instead of piano gives the group a distinctive sound. He has complete confidence in the band and Fidyk.
“Steve’s a fabulous musician and a fabulous educator,” Stafford said. “He does so much to support others as a drummer, now he’s stepping out with his own band.”
Fidyk already arranged for one live recording, and that material will be combined with songs from this week’s shows for one of the CDs.
The drummer’s aim is to have a group which performs improvisational jazz and reworked pop, while allowing each member equal input.
“I’m just trying to promote an environment that allows the musicians that play with me to feel free,” he said.
Guitarist Shawn Purcell said the drummer’s already achieved that goal.
“A lot of times, when people form groups, it’s to promote their own agenda,” said Purcell, who also plays in the Naval Academy Band. “Steve’s group is an open collaboration.”
The CDs will be as much for the group as they’ll be for fans. “I like to log where we are musically,” Fidyk said.
As planned, the live CD will have eight or nine numbers. The group’s shooting for 10 songs on the studio CD. “It’s a lofty goal, but I have all the confidence in the world,” Fidyk said.
Most of the band’s material consists of originals such as “The Flip-Flopper” and “The Bender.”
Both songs mirror their titles rhythmically. “The Flip-Flopper” flips between time signatures. “The Bender” bends melodies.
“It’s just a reflection of our musical views and our tastes,” Fidyk said.
The same goes for the standards the group tackles.
“I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash becomes a bossa nova. “Stuck in the Middle” by Stealers Wheel is transformed into swing.
Some of the material will literally get worked out on the fly during the live shows. Saxophonist Tim Warfield, also from Temple, said it’s part of the fun.
“There’s a certain camaraderie, being good friends as well as jazz performers.”
In order to make it as a musician, Fidyk says you have to diversify.
“Jazz musicians by nature are very resourceful. They have to be. It’s not music for the masses.”
His schedule only allows for five or six hours of sleep a night, but each project allows him to express another side of his musical personality.
“Playing with a variety of musicians in variety of settings keeps you inspired, keeps you moving forward musically,” the 45-year-old said. “I feel like I’m a work in progress.”
He’s been drumming since age four, after becoming infatuated with the instrument while listening to the group his father led.
Fidyk’s dad, a tenor saxophonist, worked a full-time job as a machinist at a bubblegum factory, then played music five nights a week.
Fidyk’s sons, Tony, 17, and Joey, 10, are carrying on the family music tradition. Tony plays drums and is looking at music schools. Joey plays cello. Fidyk’s wife, Tamela, teaches band at Davidsonville and Central Elementary schools.
“I have my family and my music,” he said, “and both make me very happy and proud.”
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)