Vital Information / Steps Ahead
Smith's drumming, while always decidedly modern, can
best be described as a style that
embodies the history of U.S. music. His original love of
rudimental parade drumming is evident in his intricate
solos. Likewise, his command of jazz, from New Orleans
music, swing, bebop, avant-garde to fusion, is applied
with his powerful rock drumming sensibilities and allows
him to push the boundaries of all styles to new heights.
His musical focus is committed to the exploration of
improvised music incorporating styles as diverse as
Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk, Cajun and South Indian Carnatic.
Smith's professional career began in full, at 19 years
old, with his tenure in the Lin Biviano Big Band, which
he toured and recorded with for the next two years. At
that same time he also performed with bebopper Buddy
DeFranco and was a member of free-jazz group The Fringe
featuring George Garzone. In 1976, Smith began his
association with jazz/fusion by joining violinist
Jean-Luc Ponty's group and recording the 1977 landmark
fusion album Enigmatic Ocean, which also featured
guitarist Allan Holdsworth. It was while touring with
rocker Ronnie Montrose a year later that Smith was asked
to join the popular rock band Journey which brought his
playing to the attention of a rock audience.
Journey, Smith toured around the world and recorded
numerous successful albums including the immensely
popular Escape (Columbia 1981) and Frontiers (Columbia
1983), both of which garnered the band many Top 40 hits
and worldwide sales of over 80 million albums. In 1985
Smith left Journey to pursue his original passion, jazz,
and to continue his developing career as a session
player. Over the past 30+ years, Smith has played on
many hits with such diverse artists as Bryan Adams,
Mariah Carey, Zucchero, Claudio Baglioni, Andrea
Bocelli, Y&T, Dweezil Zappa, Ray Price, Corrado Rustici
and Savage Garden.
Smith began leading his own
fusion band Steve Smith and Vital Information while
still a member of Journey, the group recorded their
first album in 1983. Vital Information's release, Where
We Come From, was voted Best Contemporary Jazz Recording
Of 1998 by the Association For Independent Music. The
band's 2007 Hudson Music release, Vitalization, has
gathered critical acclaim around the world. The album
features Steve's interest and abilities with rhythms
from India including the South Indian rhythmic vocal
art-form: Konnakol. Vital Information’s 2012 release,
LIVE! One Great Night, is the first in a series of new
recordings to be released to celebrate the group’s 30th
Smith has also maintained an
extensive touring and recording career, appearing with
many jazz luminaries such as Mike Mainieri's group Steps
Ahead. This band, which included virtuosos such as
Michael Brecker, Richard Bona and Mike Stern, was one of
the most successful electric jazz groups and Smith
contributed greatly to their tight, energetic sound for
seven years (1986-1993 and again from 2005-present).
Other high profile jazz touring and/or recording gigs
that have filled the drummer's schedule include such
artists as Ahmad Jamal, Michael Manring, Stanley Clarke,
Randy Brecker, Zakir Hussain, George Brooks' Summit and
the Buddy Rich Big Band, with whom he has performed in
many tribute concerts to the late drumming idol. He also
rejoined Journey in 1996 to record the reunion album
Trial By Fire (Columbia 1996). Smith's calendar often
includes many drum clinics in which he is able to
display his phenomenal techniques and concepts to
drumming students around the world.
Smith produced and played on 16 electric jazz albums for
the Tone Center label with a revolving cast of talented
players including Dave Liebman, Frank Gambale, Stu Hamm,
Tom Coster, Larry Coryell, Jerry Goodman, Howard Levy,
Steve Marcus, Scott Henderson and Victor Wooten. In 2003
Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies -- the Buddy Rich alumni
quintet -- released two CDs on the Tone Center label
that were record live at the famous London jazz club
Ronnie Scott's; Very Live at Ronnie Scott's Set One and
Set Two. In 2009 Tone Center release a compilation music
called: The Best of Steve Smith-The Tone Center
Collection. In 2004 Steve toured with Soulbop, and
all-star group featuring Bill Evans, Randy Brecker,
David Kikoski, Victor Bailey and Hiram Bullock. In 2005
the group released a live CD entitled Soulbop Band Live.
Smith's explosive solos and intricate timekeeping
served to gain him much acclaim from sources such as
Modern Drummer magazine, whose readers recently voted
him the #1 Fusion Drummer of 2012. He has been voted #1
“All-Around” Drummer five years in a row, in 2001 Modern
Drummer magazine named Steve as one of the "Top 25
Drummer of All Time", in 2002 he was voted into the
“Modern Drummer Hall of Fame” and in 2003 his Hudson
Music DVD Steve Smith Drumset Technique - History of the
U.S. Beat was voted #1 Educational DVD of 2003. The
2008, 2009 and 2010 Drum! magazine readers poll voted
Smith #1 Jazz Drummer, and in 2009 Drum! readers voted
Steve Smith Drum Legacy - Standing On The Shoulders Of
Giants the #1 educational DVD.
In 2005 Steve was
invited to be first drumset artist to perform at Zakir
Hussain’s annual concert in Mumbai, India called Homage
to Abbaji, a concert dedicated to the memory of Zakir’s
father and tabla guru, Allahrakha. In 2009 Steve played
at Carnegie Hall in NYC with a special quartet version
of Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion that also
featured “Vikku” Vinayakram and Giovanni Hidalgo. In
2010 The Raga Bop Trio featuring Prasanna, George Brooks
and Smith released an album on the Abstract Logix label
and toured extensively. In 2011 & 2012 Steve has been
touring with the virtuosic jazz pianist Hiromi as a
member of her “Trio Project” which also featured Anthony
Jackson on bass.
2015 saw Todd
Sucherman win the Modern Drummer Readers Poll for #1
Drummer as well as #1 Clinician in DRUM! Magazine all
the while touring the world with the multi platinum rock
band Styx. His “Methods and Mechanics” instructional DVD
series has won multiple awards, and he remains an in
demand drummer for recording sessions, clinics and drum
festivals all over the world.
Berklee College of Music for one year. There he studied
privately with Gary Chaffee, a world renowned educator
with former students the likes of Steve Smith and Vinnie
In 1988, Todd returned to Chicago and
quickly established himself as a first call musician in
the recording scene. As an in demand player for live and
session work, this led to his association with the band
Styx. Todd was called in to record when Styx’s John
Panozzo was ill. After John Panozzo’s untimely death,
Todd’s position in the band was solidified.
Thirteen years later Styx continues to play to millions
of fans all over the world averaging 100 dates a year.
Todd has recorded several albums with the band including
“Big Bang Theory” which put the band in the top 50 on
Billboard for the fourth straight decade. In-between his
time with Styx he’s recorded over 1000 radio and TV
spots and worked with artists diverse as Peter Cetera,
Brian Culbertson, Spinal Tap, Michael Bolton, The
Falling Wallendas, Eric Marienthal, and Brian Wilson
(including his 2003 release with Paul McCartney, Eric
Clapton and Elton John.) Todd has been an in demand
clinician performing at drum festivals around the world.
After years of touring and recording, Sucherman
began work on his much anticipated instructional DVD
release “Methods and Mechanics." In this presentation
that Modern Drummer magazine called “a stunning
achievement” and “one of the most stunning looking and
sounding DVDs ever”, Sucherman brings the knowledge of
thousands of gigs, shows and recording sessions along
with over three decades as a professional drummer to
this useful and unique DVD package.
won the Modern Drummer Magazine Reader’s poll for #1
Educational DVD as well as #1 Rock Drummer for 2009, as
well as #1 Clinician in DRUM!
- 2011 saw the
release of the “Methods and Mechanics”
companion/Transcription book as well as the much
anticipated DVD sequel, “Methods and Mechanics II” which
has just won “Best in Show” at the 2012 NAMM show in
Anaheim, California. “Methods and Mechanics II” also won
best educational DVD in DRUM! Magazine reader’s poll in
Todd continues to tour the with STYX and
record with various artists. He is also an in demand
clinician and educator world wide.
graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston,
where he received a
Bachelors degree in Music Production and engineering. He
was also the recipient of the prestigious Buddy Rich
Jazz Masters Award for outstanding performance by a
Special Kudos for Will's drumming
- Best New Drummer by Modern
Drummer Magazine's Readers Poll
- Number One
Progressive Drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine's Readers
Poll three times
- Best Drummer by Rolling Stone
Magazine's Critics Poll
Will Calhoun's unique
blend of improvisational and hard rock drumming can be
found on each of Living Colour's four Epic releases: the
ground breaking multi-platinum debut, Vivid,
the critically acclaimed sophomore LP,
Time's Up, the Biscuits
EP, and Stain, as well as
their latest release on Sanctuary Records,
CollideØscope. A prolific song writer,
Will has co-written many Living Colour compositions and
wrote the critically acclaimed song, "Pride," on the
Time's Up album and "Nothingness" on the Stain album. As
a member of Living Colour, Will received a Grammy Award
for Best Hard Rock Performance by a group and another
Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. Living Colour
also won an International Rock Award for Best Rock Band.
In addition to his work with Living Colour, Will has
recorded and/or toured with diverse artists including
B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jaco Pastorious, Harry
Belafonte, Pharoah Sanders, Jack Dejohnette, Paul Simon,
Lou Reed, The Allman Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Marcus
Miller, Dr.John, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Rolling
Stones guitarist Ron Wood, Wayne Shorter (on the
Grammy-winning CD "High Life"), Lauryn Hill, and
recorded with rappers Run-DMC and Public Enemy. As a
producer, player, and songwriter, Will has worked on
Herb Alpert's Grammy-nominated CD, Colors.
During Will's down time he has managed to record two
solo projects Housework and Drum Wave. These discs
provide an alternate canvas for his acoustic drumset
artistry as well as his push for electronic tonal
Will, Doug Wimbish, and Vinx joined forces to
form the groundbreaking Ambient World Music band JUNGLE
FUNK. Their live CD Jungle Funk is available on Zebra
Records in the States. The group combines mastery of
technology with musicianship. This rare and cutting edge
disc was given the Album of the Year mention in
Will's first jazz CD as a bandleader
is entitled The Will Calhoun Quintet: Live at the Blue
Note. The disc is an adventurous journey through Will's
approach to acoustic Jazz, World and Ambient music. The
line-up features Bobby Watson-sax, Terrell
Stafford-trumpet, John Benitez-bass and Orrin
Evans-piano. Will's song writing, arrangements and
drumming on this CD are ground breaking. Although this
was Will's first attempt at fronting a jazz group, Down
Beat Magazine, Jazz Times, and BillBoard Magazine have
given the CD top ratings. Drum Magazine's readers poll
voted Will's CD 1st runner up for Drummer/Band leader.
Will has worked with rapper Mos Def, both as a
producer and performer. Will brought together an
all-star lineup for this project, featuring artists
like: Bernie Worrell on keys, Doug Wimbish on bass, Doc
Know, the guitarist from Bad Brains, and other special
guests. The Band is titled Black Jack Johnson, and
several tracks from this band were featured on Mos Def's
CD The New Danger. Keep your eyes and ears open for a
full length Black Jack Johnson CD. It will be in the
usual cutting-edge Calhoun fashion.
One of Will's
latest creations is his follow-up release on the
Halfnote label: Native Lands. Native Lands can be
described as Jazz meets World, meets trance-inducing
Urban music. This is a double package - CD/DVD in which
Calhoun marries his far reaching interests in a
genre-bending collection that taps key expressionists
from various backgrounds. Among those contributing are
Pharoah Sanders, Mos Def, Buster Williams, Stanley
Jordan, Kevin Eubanks, Marcus Miller and Wallace Roney,
as well as Nana Vasconcelos from Brazil and Cheick
Tidiane Seck from Mali. The album includes a DVD with
over ninety minutes of music videos and documentary
materials that chronicle the last ten years of Will's
life and travels. Will is presently touring in support
of this project with his group, variously called "AZA"
or "Native Lands", which features various artists from
the album and other outstanding musicians.
Click here to return
to the top of the page.
Please use the links, below, to
browse information about the camp. Click the
"questions!" tab for frequently-asked-questions
Owner / Camp Director
Steven Orkin is the owner and director of
Drum Fantasy Camp. He also runs Orkin Marketing
Consultants, a music marketing firm in Los
Orkin spent ten years in
corporate marketing and the ad agency world before
starting his firm. He started Drum Fantasy Camp in 2007
to address fan interest in learning with two of his
clients - Steve Smith and Dave Weckl.
manages marketing communications for Weckl, Smith, Mike
Stern, and others, while working with Hudson Music on
music education projects.
Manager / Vic's Drum Shop
is the hard-working manager at Vic's
Drum Shop - our host location for Drum Fantasy Camp.
He's also a great drummer and multi-instrumentalist!
While managing operations at the store, Kevin
organizes and coordinates all the gear needed to run the
camp. He has done an amazing job elevating the store and
its online presence.
His contributions are
invaluable to Drum Fantasy Camp and our attendees!
One of many things that separates Drum Fantasy Camp from
any other drum education experience: getting to learn
from and play with four top musicians who also happen
to be fantastic people!
Baron Browne is one of the world's
bass players. He has a long tenure in Steve Smith's
band, Vital Information, and has been hailed by Steve as
his favorite bass player.
Additionally, Baron has
recorded and/or toured with Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy
Cobham, Gary Burton, Freddie Hubbard, and Al DiMeola.
This will be Baron's eighth appearance at Drum
Fantasy Camp, including our 2013 camp in Turkey. Our
attendees are going to love locking in with Baron during
our Jam Nights!
Stuart Mindeman is a versatile
skilled in various styles of music including Jazz, Pop,
R&B, Classical, Salsa/Latin music, Gospel, and more.
He has shared the stage with such names as Fareed
Haque, Gloria Estefan, Rodney Whitaker, Claudio Roditi,
John Clayton, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and many
others. He is also active in Chicago’s Theater
community, musically directing for The Second City,
In addition to performing, Stuart
maintains a private studio, and is on faculty at the
Chicago Academy for the Arts.
Chrissi Poland has been the heart and soul of Drum
Fantasy Camp since it started in 2007!
of Berklee with a four-octave range, Chrissi is the
energetic leader of our Jam Nights and opening concerts.
A composer and recording artist in her own right,
Chrissi has toured/recorded with artists including Moby,
Bette Midler, Scissor Sisters and Sam Moore.
Chrissi is a true pro who challenges Drum Fantasy Camp
attendees to play with confidence, passion, and solid
is a world-class guitarist and
educator. He is best-known for his work with the
legendary George Benson and Steve Smith's fusion band
Vinny is a "musician's
musician." He plays "in the pocket" and chooses his
notes carefully. He's a writer, arranger, and performer
of the highest order. He is also a great teacher -
helping drummers understand how to be more musical.
Vinny's company, "Play Along Jazz," produces play
along tracks for musicians of every background and
Interested in getting your
product in front of our campers and concert attendees?
to learn about camp sponsorships!