l-r: Memo Acevedo playing bell, Marcus Santos playing Dun Dun and bell, Aldo Mazza on djembe, Michael Wimberly on djembe, Neil Peart, drumset and djembe
Almost 20 years ago, I met Aldo Mazza backstage at a Rush concert in Montreal. We kept in touch, and in the early '90s, Aldo invited me to a Toronto performance by his masterly percussion quartet, Répercussion. I was amazed and delighted by their virtuosity, and Aldo and I discussed working together sometime on a percussion project. We never managed to make that happen, but Aldo also extended an open invitation to attend the percussion camp he organized every summer in Vermont. Finally, in July 2011, the stars aligned, and I was able to accept that invitation. And I'm glad I did-my experience at KoSA 16 in Castleton, Vermont, left me with the overall glow, "What a happy place!"
Everyone I met backstage seemed friendly and enthusiastic, happy to be there, and when Aldo and I spoke in front of about 100 attendees, the mood was positive, bright, and infectious. I noticed a lot of smiling faces in the crowd. Of course, it was because we all shared the same passion-the brotherhood of the drum-and we were all equally inspired and elevated by that relationship. Over our headset microphones, Aldo and I discussed a few topics from our own experience, and took some good questions from the audience. Then I nudged Aldo and said, "Can we play the drums now?" He laughed and said, "Yes-but first there's something we must do." He called out his wife, Jolan, and together they presented me with a Lifetime Achievement plaque, engraved with words that touched me deeply-kind of choked me up, really.
Then I stepped back to a little drumset, and joined a "faculty drum ensemble," with Aldo playing djembe (he is annoyingly expert on all percussion instruments), Memo Acevedo playing bell, Marcus Santos on Dun Dun and bell, and Michael Wimberly on djembe. After an enjoyable interchange, I moved out front to join in on djembe-at which I am inexpert, but enthusiastic. (At the earlier soundcheck, Aldo had warned me not to hit so hard-I would hurt my hands. That's never stopped me before, on hand drums or with sticks and pedals-when I'm whacking the snare and bass drum as hard as I can.)
At the end of that spirited convocation on our various instruments, Aldo played the agreed-upon figure for the conclusion, and we all came down together on the final flam. At that, we all burst out laughing-with the pure pleasure of sharing that conversation together, and ending so tightly. My smile lasted all the way home, and warms me yet.
Thank you, Aldo, Jolan, and everybody at KoSA 16!