J Marcus (aka J Why) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer who studied jazz, classical, electronic and experimental music at California Institute of the Arts, Berklee College of Music, and San Francisco State University. He has been teaching drums for more than two decades and computer music applications for over a decade.
As a drummer/percussionist and a bass clarinetist, he has performed in such varied settings as the Spanglish-rock band Caramelize, funk-jazz ensemble President's Breakfast and with experimental composer Pamela Z. As a composer, J has scored modern dance works and dance films for Sasha Welsh/Victory to Others and Anna Brady Nuse/Straight to the Helicopter. His compositions were featured in Amir Bar-Lev's critically acclaimed documentary, My Kid Could Paint That.
BMF Teacher Feature
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS ...
The Jacksons (self-titled). From the often overlooked Post-Motown, but pre-Michael goes solo era. A late teenaged Michael blossoming, sweet and hot harmonies and rhythms from all of the brothers, and Peak Afro had been reached on their heads. I still love that album.
2. THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER SAW WAS ...
Well, seeing Buddy Rich's big band in the Red Hook, NY high school gym around age 5 lodged the idea of playing drums in my head. Other than that, I went to see General Public perform in Albany, NY in the spring of 1985. It was the closest I could get to seeing the English Beat.
3. THE THING THAT MADE ME WANT TO BECOME A MUSICIAN WAS...
Obsessively playing rhythms with a ruler between my hand and leg really quietly during class. I thought maybe I should pursue things further. Well, that and the Beatles.
4. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS ...
Blue CB700 drum kit (you've never heard of that brand for a reason). Christmas 1983. My sister got a Casio keyboard. The first song we played together was "99 Luftballons" by Nena.
5. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS ...
The event: Dance Through the Eras at the high school. The song: well, I don't remember what song was first on the set list... Probably "Rock Around the Clock." I remember a spontaneous cheer when we played the opening to "Don't You (Forget About Me)," a huge hit at that moment because of it's appearance in the movie The Breakfast Club.
6. THE FIRST BAND I WAS IN WAS CALLED …
Hot Tub. Named for Eddie Murphy's James Brown impression on Saturday Night Live. Which we covered. Thank the deities, there is no video of this.
7. THE BEST THING ABOUT PLAYING MUSIC IS...
It happens only seldomly but, those moments when you achieve timelessness and ecstasy just from playing. Seriously. (It did say "BEST" right?)
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