By Brett Callwood
The 19th Annual Gardena Jazz Festival is set to take place this Sunday, August 28 at Rowley Park. As is generally the case, the organizers have assembled a stellar array of talent, and the GVN has spoken to a number of them over the past few weeks. The final artist we’re focussing on is Harvey Mason, who will be performing with his band the Chameleons. Mason was traveling when the GVN reached out to him, and he answered a few of our questions while also pointing us towards his biography.
A Little bit of background first — how long have you been playing, and what are your career highlights?
[From the bio] Initially, [I] was indulging in music purely for fun and side money, intending to become a lawyer to escape poverty. Then [I] read an interview in Downbeat Magazine with prolific Los Angeles session percussionist Larry Bunker that revealed the professional side of being a musician. A light went on in [my] head. Getting deep into jazz giants such as Art Taylor, Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson, [I] joined the American Legion Drum Corps followed by the more exacting Seahorse Lancers Drum & Bugle Corps in Brigantine, New Jersey). As a minor, [I] also juggled two important training ground gigs: an organ trio at The Wonder Garden (for which he obtained a special license to work there underage) and moonlighting at The Jockey Club strip joint (deeeep undercover).
Describe your sound…
Posted firmly in [my] fifth decade of professional music making with no signs of slowing, [my] precision time keeping and versatility have placed him among the most in-demand session drummers of all-time. With [my] tumbling tom-tom fills, and the lickity slick synchronization between [my] hi-hat cymbals, snare and bass drums as instantly recognizable sonic signatures, it’s no wonder [I have] won four 1st place plaques from Modern Drummer magazine’s annual studio poll and, for 2017, [am] nominated for the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.
Do you have any recorded output?
Have you played Gardena Jazz Fest before?
This will be my very first time playing the Gardena Jazz Festival and I’m really looking forward to playing for the Gardena community. I’ve heard they really come out for this event. As in the past, the lineup is great.
What can we expect from your Jazz Fest set this year?
My Chameleon Band will perform a musically exciting set with a variety of music and may feature a very special guest. This band has been together a few years and last traveled to Japan, China and Jakarta.
What else do you have going on this year, besides the Jazz Fest?
The next item on my schedule has me touring for three weeks in Europe, Italy, France and Scandinavia..
Go to harveymason.net for more info. To find all of the details about Gardena Jazz Fest, go to cityofgardena.org/recreation-and-human-services/jazz-festival/