© 2016 DOUGYOWELL

Doug Yowell

 

I was born in Ridgewood, NJ as the last of six kids that all played music. There was already a set of drums in the house and at the age of three I was completely drawn to both the rhythmic quality of the instrument as well as melody. My father was a jazz musician in the 50's who had the great opportunity of playing with Charlie Parker, Zoot Simms, Gerry Mulligan and many others. Through his love and encouragement I was given an endless supply of life force to dig into as hard as I wanted. My Dad has always been an artist. No matter what he decided to do with his mind and his hands he could create it. It never mattered how difficult it was and through him I realize now that he created an environment to open the imagination as wide as possible and taught me without ever speaking the words that this kind of exploration was completely normal and necessary to reach the end result. Dad… I love you and I am forever grateful.

 

Jazz for me was influencing the idea that a conversation could be spoken through the instruments and players. The spectrum of music in the house was vast between all of my brothers and sisters who all played and sang ranging from Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Joni Mitchell, Gladys Knight, Ruben Blades, Elton John, James Taylor and on and on. I remember vividly telling my dad at three years old that I wanted to be a drummer and that I was going to play with Elton John. Although he wasn't here to see it, I recorded with Elton John for a new version of "Are you ready for love" on an upcoming Disney film due out in March 2018. My drive and passion never ceased. I had great teachers at a young age and by the time I was 16 years old I was studying with Jazz drumming legend, Peter Erskine who took me under his wing and not only taught me many conceptual approaches but brought me on countless live gigs, recording sessions, rehearsals and sound checks to watch guys like Michael Brecker, Steps Ahead, Eliane Elias, Bob Mintzer and so many others including Vince Mendoza for whom I recorded a snare drum étude with Peter to open one of the pieces. The experiences were were filled with the kind of experiences I needed to see up close.

 

I began recording session work at age fourteen, gaining as much experience as I could with great engineers and producers. Having known David Lasley and Luther Vandross since I was eleven years old, I began working with both of them in the studio and live in LA when I was twenty. My first touring experience was with Sophie B. Hawkins which was short lived but will always be with me.

 

Things really started to change when I met NYC bassist and now close friend, Mike Visceglia and guitar great Marc Shulman who both helped me tremendously in fusing my drumming with the art of working with the singer / songwriter. They were completely honest with me about what was needed and what could be improved upon and I found myself working as hard as possible in the NYC scene where I met one of the greatest influences I’ve had to date, Gerry Leonard. Gerry introduced me to Duncan Sheik to work on a play that was being formed for Broadway called ‘Spring Awakening’. At the same time I was called in to record for Suzanne Vega who I had been admiring for years and before I knew it was recording on both of their records and touring with them back to back around the world for the last ten years. In both situations I was starting to get into the technology of using a laptop live and integrating it into my set up as an extension of the instrument which has become a whole new world for me. Duncan was a great catalyst for this. 

 

My musical appreciation and love for the art of it is a driving force that wakes me up first thing in the morning because I can’t wait to start another day. Having a home studio has also been great for me to be able to explore my creativity and at the same time record tracks for people all over the world. 

 

I’m very busy touring these days as well as recording records, movie soundtracks, jingles etc. I’ve been fortunate to work with many great artists along the way either appearing on records or sharing the stage. Sharon Corr, Joe Jackson, Elton John, Suzanne Vega, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Stephen Stills,  Duncan Sheik, Judy Collins, Desmond Child, Phoebe Snow, Robbie Dupree,  Ari Hest , Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti  and many, many more. I grew up wanting to play with my heroes like the legendary Will Lee on bass and he's not only become a great friend but a true mentor.   

 

Producers such as Kevin Killen, Patrick Leonard, Mark Plati, Neil Dorfsman, Rupert Hine, Mark Ronson, Duncan Sheik, and Gerry Leonard have also contributed so much to my knowledge of the process as well as some of the great session players of New York who I’m proud to call friends.

My passion for music and drums is increasing every single day…. I’m a seeker of sound and texture. The conventional ideas of this instrument hold no boundary and I’m forever discovering ways to achieve this but nothing is more important to me than feel and dynamic. When you’re surrounded by real artists and the love you share is part of the music, a level is reached that can’t happen any other way. A person’s ears are the most important part of any instrument along with the ability to be present in that moment and only that moment. 

 

Much love,

~ Doug