My parents set me on a path where as long as I enjoyed the process of learning, the info would be presented to me as life progressed. Having them as guides and drum/music teachers as well as the record collection they presented to me gave me 20/20 vision for direction. From small bands put together by them starting in 1st grade, sitting in with them on their local gigs, learning from their extremely talented friends, my parents had planted all the seeds to get me to explore the music I loved.
Not having many peers to play funk soul and hip hop gave me opportunities to explore different types of highs school rock band cultures, but I was really interested in Funk Soul and Hip Hop. So when in 9th grade I met Steve Estiverne the multi instrumentalist Choir director at a local church, I knew he was my next teacher.
I was brought into his small church as the new drummer. This was a very rewarding experience that led to me having 4 solid years of gospel drumming ( pre gospel chops) experience b4. Entering Berklee. I soon joined another local African American Baptist church as its drummer, once again I got to experience the sacred beautiful musical world of gospel music. This affected the way I approached everything on the kit. From slower to medium tempos, locking with the choir who were clapping on 2 n 4 very spirited, to being aware of the improvisational elements that may happen at anytime during a service.
The church band began playing at a local African American bar/ hang out spot on Sunday evenings called Apollo 12. Here we played tunes by secular rnb artists like Anita baker and Sade. This was also a cultural learning curve for me. I was splitting my time between these gigs and producing beats in a bedroom studio almost 12 hrs a day for my friends who were a local rap crew similar to but pre wu tang. All the cool kids in my circle of friends liked nyc style underground hip hop.
My chili peppers esque power funk rock band was also rehearsing about 4 hours a nite 3 times a week. I was constantly pushed by these dudes who were a decade older than me to hit harder and use bigger sticks. This had a huge effect on my sound. In church, I had to hit relatively medium to light to not drown out the choir which gave me a wide dynamic range. In the middle of all this I went to the 5 week summer program in 10th grade and met the Lett crew. I had finally met the guys that were a combo of everything I loved, Gospel, soul/ funk fans who really loved hip hop and had a rock n roll edge with improvisational abilities.
I also was taking drum lessons in my hometown with Frank Marino, a very hip teacher who was involved with the fusion movement of the early 80s and had friends like Dennis Chambers, Marvin Smitty Smith and Chad Smith. He was also studying Cuban ceremonial drumming with Santaria priest Frankie Malabe. I was taught Cuban rhythms, odd times, strange ryhmic groupings like quintuplets and septuplets, phrasing based on Tony Williams rock period and a multitude of clinics by greats such as Dave Garibaldi and Dennis Chambers.
These experiences brought me to Berklee with the right headspace to absorb all I could from the teachers and especially the students. Drummers like Antonio Sanchez, Kenwood Dennard, lil John Roberts, Deantoni Parks, John Blackwell, Mark Simmons, Charles Haynes and MANY more were all there and super available as friends and teachers to me. I auditioned for and won the drum chair in the esteemed Berklee Gospel choir and got taught by amazingly advanced gospel musicians like Rob Lewis, Dennis Montgomery and Jimane Nelson.
Soon after that experience, I was recruited to a “cult like” live hip hop sextet called FatBag. We rehearsed 5 nites a week from 7 to 11, sold out shows, got a 100k record deal while deeply exploring the connection between live funk music, Hip Hop, and jazz. I was also playing at Wallys cafe during this period which put me in a position to learn from older, very seasoned musicians who took me under their wing to make me a better person and musician all while developing the chemistry with my band Lettuce that would serve us well in a few years from then.
It was a whirlwind of learning, practicing, listening and playing that prepared me for my 1st touring gig, AWB. This gig challenged me to dig deeper in 70s funk/Soul and gave me an opportunity to ask questions to real soul artists who lived and thrived in the 70s during the heyday of the music. We opened up for EWF, Ohio Players, TOP and many more. I got to see these bands soundcheck and in the case of EWF and TOP, I was asked to jam with certain members during soundcheck. These moments meant the world to me and still do. Lettuce continued to work despite my full attention directed at my live Hip Hop band the Formula, which formed in the aftermath of the Fatbag implosion. One of those Lettuce gigs had a special guest named John Scofield.
John and I wrote and recorded 3 albums together and I was able to hear stories and rub elbows with so many jazz legends from Ron Carter to Josh Redman and Roy Hargrove. I danced at a jazz festival after party ( in 7) with Horacio El negro hernandez, met Dave Weckl in an elevator, met vinny backstage, sat in with Joey Defrancesco at a jam session, did a demo for my hero Dennis Chambers solo album, and topped it off with a Grammy Nom for best contemporary jazz album. This lasted for 3 short years that I will always cherish. I could do a whole course on what Sco taught me, but to sum it up, stay alert, study New Orleans drumming and how it relates to funk and jazz, bring beats to the table that influences his compositions and be ready to improvise for long periods of time.
Soon after I began what became the seeds for Break Science with a small band that I was in fact the leader for the 1st time. The Adam Deitch project played giant festivals, as well as the Blue Note NYC Club late nite gigs and small regular bar gigs. This taught me that leading a band is very challenging and I felt having a co leader was better for me. Borahm Lee brought years of jazz piano experience as well as futuristic visions of electronic music that melded with jazz and afrobeat. We soon began gigging as a duo combining computers and live playing and improv.
I was then called for a session with Wyclef Jean and Dj Quik. Wyclef quickly hired me as his full time touring and studio drummer. I was able to meet and work with so many hip hop and pop icons like Lauren Hill, Shakira and Akon. We also toured most of the Carribean and Virgin Islands over my 3 year stint, which allowed me to witness some of the greatest soca/calypso Kompas, reggae, and dance hall bands. We also visited Spain, where we did a flamenco meets hip hop reggae event and I got to witness some amazing flamenco culture and music.
Upon leaving Wyclef, I did a summer tour with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. This was a life changer and serious school. I learned the nuances of mid to late sixties soul drumming from Homer Steinwess himself at the legendary House of Soul studios in Brooklyn NY.
After that summer Lettuce started to grow exponentially in congruence to Break Science (BrkSci brought a large number of electronic music fans over to lettuce). I also did a 2 year stint with producer Pretty Lights which lifted my career to new heights of notoriety in the electro soul scene. This taught me about locking with a click, a track, catching cues from hidden onstage talkback mics, and dealing with larger than life production asthetics. Lettuce again benefitted from the huge popularity of Pretty Lights and rose to even new heights. I was asked to do the Modern Drummer festival in 2010 as a featured performer and PASIC a few years after that. Zildjian sent me on a 3 week trip to Europe on my own to do a clinic tour. I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with so many people in a short time.
In 2019 after years of hard-core touring ( non stop between BrkSci, Lett and other projects) Lettuce was nominated for a Grammy. This was a momentous time that I am forever inspired by. I never thought Lettuce would get recognized in such a way, but i was pleasantly shocked. This pandemic has been a time to reflect on all these experiences and i look forward to sharing anything that can help other drummers succeed in this modern world of music.